Fear no weevil

Updated: Dec 23, 2020

Weevils are one of the most diverse groups of insects with >60,000 species. Despite their prevalence few genomic resources exist for the group. Today, we report the first genome resolved to chromosome scale for the weevils, specifically, for the Easter Egg Weevil Pachyrhynchus sulphureomaculatus.

Pachyrhynchus sulphureomaculatus (photo by Ann Cabras) [CC].

Pachyrhynchus weevils are known for their brilliant colors. Many species have striking color patterns which signal to predators that they are not tasty due to their hard exoskeleton (Tseng et al. 2014). The genus is primarily restricted to the Philippines where they have diversified into about 145 species. They are an emblematic fauna of the islands and unfortunately many species are threatened due to habitat loss.

Follow the link to download the sequence of the n=11 chromosomes for the Easter Egg Weevil Pachyrhynchus sulphureomaculatus. At ~2 Gbp, the P. sulphureomaculatus genome is roughly 1.8 times as large as the next largest weevil genome published to date, the 1.11 Gbp Listronotus bonariensis, the Argentine Stem Weevil (Harrop et al. 2020), and 2.6 times the next largest, the 782 Mbp Red Palm Weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Hazzouri et al. 2020) genome. Finally, it is more than 13.5 times the size of the coffee berry borer (Hypothenemus hampei), also a weevil. The extreme size appears to be due to the expansion of repetitive elements in P. sulphureomaculatus (~76% of the genome).

We hope that the new assembly will provide a resource for more research on this remarkable genus as well as conservation planning for the threatened Pachyrhynchus species. Read more about the genome in our paper (Van Dam et al. 2020) here: https://biorxiv.org/cgi/content/short/2020.12.18.422986v1!

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