The DNA of the yellow mealworm is being analyzed for enhanced viability as an alternative protein source. The study led by scientists at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), in partnership with Beta Hatch, has sequenced the genome of the mealworm species Tenebrio molitor. The results could help in optimizing the yellow mealworm for mass production and consumption, helping to meet global demand for protein sources.

“Human populations are continuing to increase and the stress on protein production is increasing at an unsustainable rate, not even considering climate change,” says Christine Picard, Associate Professor of Biology and Director in the Forensic and Investigative Sciences program at the School of Science at IUPUI, who led the analysis.

Picard and her team used 10X Chromium linked-read technology, a new method that integrates two sequencing methods to produce a genome sequence. The team, whose lab focuses on using insects to address global food demand, published its results this week in the Journal of Insects as Food and Feed.

“Insect genomes are challenging, and the longer sequence of DNA you can generate, the better genome you can assemble,” Picard adds.

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