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Background : The western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande), is a globally invasive pest and plant virus vector on a wide array of food, fiber and ornamental crops. While there are numerous studies centered on thrips pest and vector biology, feeding behaviors, ecology, and insecticide resistance, the underlying genetic mechanisms of the processes governing these areas of research are largely unknown. To address this gap, we present the F. occidentalis draft genome assembly and official gene set. Results : We report on the first genome sequence for any member of the insect order Thysanoptera. Benchmarking Universal Single-Copy Ortholog (BUSCO) assessments of the genome assembly (size = 415.8 Mb, scaffold N50 = 948.9 Kb) revealed a relatively complete and well-annotated assembly in comparison to other insect genomes. The genome is unusually GC-rich (50%) compared to other insect genomes to date. The official gene set (OGS v1.0) contains 16,859 genes, of which ~10% were manually verified and corrected by our consortium. We focused on manual annotation, phylogenetic and expression evidence analyses for gene sets centered on primary themes in the life histories and activities of plant-colonizing insects. Highlights include: 1) divergent clades and large expansions in genes associated with environmental sensing (chemosensory receptors) and detoxification (CYP4, CYP6 and CCE enzymes) of substances encountered in agricultural environments; 2) a comprehensive set of salivary gland-associated genes supported by enriched expression; 3) apparent absence of members of the IMD innate immune defense pathway; and 4) developmental- and sex-specific expression analyses of genes associated with progression from larvae to adulthood through neometaboly, a distinct form of maturation compared to complete metamorphosis in the Holometabola. Conclusions : Analysis of the F. occidentalis genome offers insights into the polyphagous behavior of this insect pest to find, colonize and survive on a widely diverse array of plants. The genomic resources presented here enable a more complete analysis of insect evolution and biology, providing a missing taxon for contemporary insect genomics-based analyses. Our study also offers a genomic benchmark for molecular and evolutionary investigations of other thysanopteran species.

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