Manduca sexta


Manduca sexta (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae) is commonly known as the tobacco hornworm or Carolina sphinx moth. M. sexta serves as one of the most important insect models for invertebrate physiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology. Studies on M. sexta over the past 40+ years have included many areas of insect biology, including neurobiology, endocrine regulation, chemical sensing (chemoreception, sexual and feeding attractants), behavior, development, metamorphosis, immunology, antimicrobial defenses, locomotion and flight, digestive and gut physiology, toxicology, parasitism, microbial interactions, pathology, and plant-insect interactions. As such, M. sexta represents a powerful, well developed, and tractable experimental system.

In nature, M. sexta larvae feed on plants in the family Solanaceae. Larvae grow to a very large size, reaching weights of 10-12 grams in the 5th larval instar. At the end of the last larval instar, larvae burrow into the soil and pupate. After emergence, adults feed on the nectar from flowers. Adults are active and fly at dusk, and females lay eggs on the leaves of host plants. In the Americas, M. sexta can be found from Massachusetts to northern California, and south as far as Argentina and Chile.

The M. sexta genome contains 28 chromosomes, with a genome size of ~500 MB. The genome sequence will aid current and future studies using M. sexta as a model system for research on fundamental processes in insect physiology and biochemistry.

The i5k Workspace hosts the GenBank accession of the M. sexta genome assembly. To convert scaffold IDs from GenBank accession numbers to IDs used in the genome paper, use this conversion table.

Data use policy:

Please cite the following publication if you use the M. sexta genome or annotations:
Kanost M. et al. 2016. Multifaceted biological insights from a draft genome sequence of the tobacco hornworm moth, Manduca sexta. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Available online 12 August 2016, ISSN 0965-1748,

Community contact:

Image Credit: Copyright Lisa Brummett.
Organism Image
Feature Summary
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Contig N50
Scaffold N50
Number Of Genes
Community Contact
Community Contact: 
Mike Kanost|
Image Credit
Copyright Lisa Brummett.

Assembly Information

Analysis Name Manduca sexta whole genome assembly v1
Software Newbler (2.3)
Source SAMN00779869
Date performed 2012-05-24
Materials & Methods Specimen was from a long-term laboratory colony at Kansas State University. Eggs were originally obtained from Carolina Biological Co. A single male whole individual was sequenced. Adult male and female siblings of the individual selected for sequencing were deposited with the Kansas State University Museum of Entomological and Prairie Arthropod Research, with voucher number 212 assigned by Greg Zolnerowich.


Assembly Metrics
Contig N50 40,975
Scaffold N50 664,006
GC Content 35.65