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Manduca sexta

Resource Type
Common Name
Tobacco hornworm

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.

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  2. Gershman A, Romer TG, Fan Y, Razaghi R, Smith WA, Timp W. De novo genome assembly of the tobacco hornworm moth (Manduca sexta).. G3 (Bethesda, Md.). 2021 01 18; 11(1).
Organism Image
Image Credit
Copyright Lisa Brummett.
NameProgramDate Constructed
Manduca sexta official gene set (OGS 2.0)Maker 2.25, manual annotation, Trinity, Oases, PASA2Apr 7th, 2014
Manduca sexta genome assembly JHU_Msex_v1.0 (GCF_014839805.1)Canu v. 2.0; 3D-DNA v. 180922Oct 2nd, 2020
NCBI Manduca sexta Annotation Release 102NCBI Eukaryotic Genome Annotation PipelineNov 12th, 2020
Manduca sexta Official Gene Set v2.2LiftoffMay 21st, 2021
Functional annotation of Manduca sexta Annotation Release 102AgBase functional annotation pipelineJun 4th, 2022
Assembly Stats
Contig N50
Scaffold N50
GC Content
Other Information
Community Contact
Mike Kanost, Kansas State University