Genomic research led by HKBU unravels mystery of invasive apple snails
12 Aug 2019
Biologists from HKBU have led a study to sequence and analyse the genomes of four apple snail species in the family Ampullariidae. The researchers discovered that the apple snails have evolved to become highly sensitive to environmental stimuli, digest cellulose (a major component of the plant cell wall), form hard calcareous eggshells and pack neurotoxins in eggs. The findings could facilitate the development of effective genetic control measures for these destructive crop-eating snails.
The four apple snail species are the African Lanistes nyassanus, and the South American Pomacea canaliculata, Pomacea maculata, and Marisa cornuarietis. Among them, the two Pomacea species are the most invasive. Freshwater Pomacea are widely distributed in tropical and subtropical freshwaters. These natives of South America have spread to many other parts of the world. In China, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines, they are considered the number one rice pest.
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