Complete genome of Pieris rapae, a resilient alien, a cabbage pest, and a source of anti-cancer proteins

Jinhui ShenNick V Grishin


The Small Cabbage White ( Pieris rapae) is originally a Eurasian butterfly. Being accidentally introduced into North America, Australia, and New Zealand a century or more ago, it spread throughout the continents and rapidly established as one of the most abundant butterfly species. Although it is a serious pest of cabbage and other mustard family plants with its caterpillars reducing crops to stems, it is also a source of pierisin, a protein unique to the Whites that shows cytotoxicity to cancer cells. To better understand the unusual biology of this omnipresent agriculturally and medically important butterfly, we sequenced and annotated the complete genome from USA specimens. At 246 Mbp, it is among the smallest Lepidoptera genomes reported to date. While 1.5% positions in the genome are heterozygous, they are distributed highly non-randomly along the scaffolds, and nearly 20% of longer than 1000 base-pair segments are SNP-free (median length: 38000 bp). Computational simulations of population evolutionary history suggest that American populations started from a very small number of introduced individuals, possibly a single fertilized female, which is in agreement with historical literature. Comparison to other Lepidoptera gen...Continue Reading


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