De Novo Whole-Genome Assembly of the Swede Midge (Contarinia nasturtii), a Specialist of Brassicaceae, Using Linked-Read Sequencing

Boyd A. Mori, Cathy Coutu, Yolanda H. Chen, Erin O. Campbell, Julian R. Dupuis, Martin A. Erlandson, Dwayne D. Hegedus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The swede midge, Contarinia nasturtii, is a cecidomyiid fly that feeds specifically on plants within the Brassicaceae. Plants in this family employ a glucosinolate-myrosinase defense system, which can be highly toxic to nonspecialist feeders. Feeding by C. nasturtii larvae induces gall formation, which can cause substantial yield losses thus making it a significant agricultural pest. A lack of genomic resources, in particular a reference genome, has limited deciphering the mechanisms underlying glucosinolate tolerance in C. nasturtii, which is of particular importance for managing this species. Here, we present an annotated, scaffolded reference genome of C. nasturtii using linked-read sequencing from a single individual and explore systems involved in glucosinolate detoxification. The C. nasturtii genome is similar in size and annotation completeness to that of the Hessian fly, Mayetiola destructor, but has greater contiguity. Several genes encoding enzymes involved in glucosinolate detoxification in other insect pests, including myrosinases, sulfatases, and glutathione S-transferases, were found, suggesting that C. nasturtii has developed similar strategies for feeding on Brassicaceae. The C. nasturtii genome will, therefore, be integral to continued research on plant-insect interactions in this system and contribute to effective pest management strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberevab036
JournalGenome Biology and Evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Shane Hladun, Jennifer Holowachuk, Doug Baldwin, and Stephanie Harris for their technical support, and Dr Scott Geib for advice and assistance. We would also like to thank the Reviewer for constructive comments. The gDNA extraction and sequencing were carried out at the DNA Technologies and Expression Analysis Core Facility at the UC Davis Genome Center (CA, USA) supported by a NIH Shared Instrumentation Grant 1S10OD010786-01. Dr Spencer Johnston (Texas A & M University, TX, USA) kindly provided genome size estimation via flow cytometry. This work was supported by the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Genomic Resources and Development Initiative (Grant J-001581 to B.A.M., M.A.E., and D.D.H.) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada-Industrial Research Chair Program (Grant 545088 to B.A.M.).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


  • Cecidomyiidae
  • Diptera
  • detoxification genes
  • genomic resources
  • insect pest
  • transcriptome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)


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