The National Cockroach Project is accepting submissions of potential subjects, primarily the American cockroach. The project, developed by researchers from Rockefeller University, is using DNA sequencing to learn more about the genetic diversity of cockroaches.
Led by Mark Stoeckle, Daniel Kronauer and Christoph von Beeren with the aid of Hunter College High School student Joyce Xia, the National Cockroach Project has already learned a lot about the genetic diversity of New York City cockroaches, the Wall Street Journal reports. Cockroaches in the city do not have a lot of genetic diversity, according to the researchers, with 90 percent of cockroaches from Staten Island coming from the same gene pool, and with 80 percent reported for cockroaches from the Upper East Side of Manhattan, WSJ notes.
As part of the research, the National Cockroach Project has received 200 samples submitted by individuals from across America as well as from Spain and Australia. The researchers are accepting cockroach submissions and have provided a guideline, which includes a form, for sending samples to the university. While there are four cockroach species commonly found in the United States, including the smaller German cockroach, the researchers are interested in learning more about the American cockroach, Periplaneta Americana, which is also known as a palmetto bug or waterbug.
The American cockroach is the most common large cockroach, according to the researchers. The insect, which grows to 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches, has wings, but it doesn't fly. As the researchers explain about the project, "Genetic diversity is a window into evolution and patterns of migration. American cockroaches originated in Africa and hitchhiked around the world on commercial goods.”
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Through DNA sequencing, the researchers want to know if American cockroaches differ by location and if the genetic type of cockroaches in America is different from those in other countries and about the possibility of new “look-alike species” that may have been wrongly classified as American cockroaches. So far the researchers have found four distinct “DNA barcodes” that vary by neighborhood in New York.