New wasp database explores genetic world of tiny parasitic stingers

Parasitic wasps are able to survive by keenly predicting the changing of the seasons based on the length of days throughout the year - and a new online database, WaspAtlas, launched by researchers from the Department of Genetics led by Dr Eran Tauber explores the genetic explanation for how. 

Researchers from the Tauber lab have launched the online database to provide insights into the genetics and molecular data of the parasitic wasp Nasonia. The database, created by PhD student Nathaniel Davies, will provide information about gene annotation, gene expression as well as DNA methylation in the Nasonia wasp.

Nasonia is an emerging model organism in various areas of biosciences including embryonic development, neuroscience and evolution.

To date there are only a few popular large insect databases such as FlyBase (for the fruitfly Drosophila), The Arabidopsis Information Resource (TAIR, for the plant Arabidopsis), and WormBase (on Caenorhabditis elegans).

The research team’s own interest in Nasonia is the strong seasonal response the wasp exhibits. Their research investigates the molecular basis of the photoperiodic clock - how animals use the annual change of the day-length to predict the coming season.