A lousy genome project–NOT!

Ok, terrible pun, I know. But the twittosphere was abuzz with the louse genome today.  I largely ignored it for a while, but then decided to go and look at the actual paper instead of the press coverage.

It is wild. Not only did they do the louse genome, but they did an endosymbiont it carries.  But there’s more!  There are “18 minicircular mitochondrial chromosomes” in this beast.

And quite honestly, I had no idea they spread these diseases:

Of the two forms, only the body louse has been implicated as a vector of human disease and is the principal vector of epidemic typhus (Rickettsia prowazekii), relapsing fever (Borrelia recurrentis), and trench fever (Bartonella quintana) (5–9).

I wonder if this would of use to anthropologists and archaeologists.  I have been unable to shake the story of the difference between the hair lice and the clothing lice that lead to insights on the origin of clothing.  Hmmm….

Much cooler than I expected.

Genome sequences of the human body louse and its primary endosymbiont provide insights into the permanent parasitic lifestyle June 21, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1003379107