Although this parasitic wasp can kill insects, it could help save human lives.
The newly sequenced genomes of three parasitic wasp species may open the door to the development of innovative drug treatments as well as a chemical-free approach to pest control -- all from an insect smaller than a pin head.
University of Rochester biologist John H. Werren led the study, published in the journal Science, in which the college's Nasonia Genome Working Group sequenced the genomes of three parasitic wasps.
Commonly known as jewel wasps, these insects are just a fragment of Earth's estimated 600,000 species of parasitic wasp.
These minuscule carnivores sting and lay eggs in a variety of insect species. Their venom is of particular interest to scientists due to its diverse physiological effects. After all, parasitic wasps don't inject their prey to kill it, but rather to transform them into a living nursery for their young.
To facilitate this, the venom inflicts such symptoms as developmental arrest, growth alteration, immune response suppression, paralysis and behavior modification.