Veterinary Pest Genomics Center Overview

The Veterinary Pest Genomics Center (VPGC) is an initiative within the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS). The vision for this initiative is to leverage big data solutions to evaluate risk from, and develop mitigations for invasive and other economically important veterinary pests. The introduction of invasive veterinary pests is accelerated by global change, including anomalies related to climate variability. An important aspect of this effort is to foster an innovation ecosystem involving the network of laboratories directly linked to ARS National Program 104 (Veterinary, Medical, and Urban Entomology), and related locations, in a way that allows ARS to leverage its scientific talent and other research assets.

VPGC's mission is to:

  1. Utilize key biological resources, next generation sequencing technology, and state-of-the-art bioinformatics approaches to sequence and annotate the genomes, transcriptomes, proteomes and metagenomes of important and emerging arthropod pests of veterinary importance
  2. Develop and use molecular tools for population genomics studies of veterinary pests in their indigenous and invasive ranges to understand the role of different evolutionary forces in shaping phenotypic variation of high-consequence to agriculture
  3. Apply biogeographic, spatial, and temporal analyses to quantify and predict economically important or potential veterinary pest distributional changes, and integrate these analyses with genetic studies of rapid evolution and adaptation of pests to new or changing environments
  4. Conduct feasibility studies to evaluate advanced computing hardware and software systems for their ability to store and analyze large data sets on veterinary pests, and the capacity to integrate results from longitudinal
    environmental assessments

Attribution info for the feature banner image: Tick larvae Creative Commons CC0 by Jason Tidwell

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More about the program

Highlighted Projects:

Dr. Kristina Friesen of the Agroecosystem Management Research Unit is characterizing the effects of heat stress on the physiology and behavior of stable flies by analyzing differential transcript expression.

Dr. Dana Nayduch of the Arthropod-borne Animal Diseases Research Unit is studying differential utilization of dung as a developmental substrate for dipteran larvae through transcriptome and microbiome analyses.

Dr. Dawn E. Gundersen-Rindal and Dr. Andrew Li of the Invasive Insect Biocontrol and Behavior Laboratory are determining gene expression in response to pathogen infection in deer ticks.

Dr. Felix Guerrero has been working with the Australian, and other colleagues for years sequencing the southern cattle fever tick genome, which is ~2.4X the size of the human genome.

Dr. Pia Olafson is leading efforts to sequence stable fly genome in collaboration with other colleagues.

Dr. Felix Guerrero is a collaborator for the Bioinformatics Education in Agricultural Sciences (BEAS) project funded by the Hispanic Serving Institution program of NIFA.

VPGC Datasets

7 datasets

Data from: Discovery of MicroRNAs of the Stable Fly (Diptera: Muscidae) by High-Throughput Sequencing

This dataset reports discovery and initial comparative analysis of 88 presumptive microRNA (miRNA) sequences from the stable fly, obtained using high-throughput sequencing of small RNAs. The majority of stable fly miRNAs were 22-23 nucleotides (nt) in length. Many miRNAs were arthropod specific, and several mature miRNA sequences showed greater sequence identity to miRNAs from other blood-feeding dipterans such as mosquitoes rather than to Drosophilids. This initial step in characterizing the stable fly microRNAome provides a basis for further analyses of life stage-specific and tissue-specific expression to elucidate their functional roles in stable fly biology.

Veterinary Pest Genomics Center program

Data from: Pyrosequencing-Based Analysis of the Microbiome Associated with the Horn Fly, Haematobia irritans

The bacterial 16S tag-encoded FLX-titanium amplicon pyrosequencing (bTEFAP) method was used to carry out the classification analysis of bacterial flora in adult female and male horn flies and horn fly eggs. The bTEFAP method identified 16S rDNA sequences in our samples which allowed the identification of various prokaryotic taxa associated with the life stage examined. This is the first comprehensive report of bacterial flora associated with the horn fly using a culture-independent method. Several rumen, environmental, symbiotic and pathogenic bacteria associated with the horn fly were identified and quantified. This is the first report of the presence of Wolbachia in horn flies of USA origin and is the first report of the presence of Rikenella in an obligatory blood feeding insect.

Veterinary Pest Genomics Center program

Annotated reference transcriptome for female Culicoides sonorensis biting midges

Unigene sequences were annotated by BlastX alignment to the non-redundant protein database (National Center for Biotechnology Information/GenBank) and the Aedes aegypti and Culex quinquefasciatus gene annotations (Vectorbase). This was done with a 1e-05 expectation value. Top hits are shown including accession numbers and description, if available. Unigene number and corresponding GenBank accession numbers are provided for all C. sonorensis genes.

Veterinary Pest Genomics Center program