The human body louse, Pediculus humanus humanus L. (Anoplura: Pediculidae), is a vector of several diseases, including louse-borne epidemic typhus, relapsing fever, and trench fever, whereas the head louse, Pediculus humanus capitis De Geer (Anoplura: Pediculidae), is more a pest of social concern. Sequencing of the body louse genome has recently been proposed and undertaken by National Human Genome Research Institute. One of the first steps in understanding an organism's genome is to determine its genome size. Here, using flow cytometry determinations, we present evidence that body louse genome size is 104.7 +/- 1.4 Mb for females and 108.3 +/- 1.1 Mb for males. Our results suggest that head lice also have a small genome size, of similar size to the body louse. Thus, Pediculus lice have one of the smallest genome sizes known in insects, suggesting it may be a suitable choice as a minimal hemimetabolous genome.
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