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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.

Data use policy:

Please cite the following publication if you use the M. sexta genome assembly JHU_Msex_v1.0:
Gershman. A et al. 2021. De novo genome assembly of the tobacco hornworm moth (Manduca sexta). G3 Genes|Genomes|Genetics, Volume 11, Issue 1.

Please cite the following publication if you use the M. sexta OGSv2 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.

Assembly Information

Analysis Name
Manduca sexta genome assembly JHU_Msex_v1.0 (GCF_014839805.1)
Canu v. 2.0; 3D-DNA v. 180922 (NA)
Date performed
Materials & Methods

For full assembly methods, see

Assembly Metrics

Contig N50
Scaffold N50
GC Content

Data Files

NameLast modifiedSize
folder-parentParent Directory
folderCurrent Genome Assembly2021-05-21 16:16
folderGCA_000262585.12021-05-21 16:25
folderJHU_Msex_v1.02021-05-21 16:16