Answer to the Monday Night Mystery

Plega sp. (Mantispidae)

Who was the source of Monday's DNA? As many of you discerned from the online Genbank database, the sequence came from Plega dactylota, a Neuropteran insect in the family Mantispidae.

10 points to Aaron Hardin, who guessed it first.

For future reference, these genetic puzzles are only slightly more complicated than a Google search. Go to NCBI's BLAST page, select "nucleotide blast" (because we have nucleotide data), click the box for "others" to get you out of the human genome, enter the sequence in the search box, and click the "BLAST" button.  Any significant matches should be returned from the database within a few seconds.

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I was too late to get any credit, but I played along at home to get the correct answer. Been a while since I BLASTed anything! I was hoping you would post a cool image for all of us and was not disappointed.

Reminds me of the first time I saw one of these in the wild. I was on a giant wheeled swamp buggy in the northern part of the Everglades. I looked at the bug that landed on my lap and realized it looked half-mantid, half-lacewing. I had seen the family in ol' Borrer and Delong before but never realized it would appear to be such a distinct difference between the front and back half. Like a mythical chimera among the insects!

As another aside, I know of population ecologists who work on insect evolution and have written entire theses to earn advanced degrees without ever seeing a physical specimen of the insect they study! I'm sure there are cellular biologists who work on Drosophila and have never seen one alive. Boggles my mind that a little curiosity wouldn't compel someone to seek out the real thing!!


By Jesse Hardin (not verified) on 07 Apr 2010 #permalink

Good of you to drop in, Jesse!

This reminds me of David M.'s story about Limulus and the thesis defense.

I love these guys. I saw a wasp-mimicking mantidfly in Flagstaff this summer and it took quite a while to figure out what it was.

Cool! I've always wondered how you could 'google' a nucleotide sequence.