Beyond the Fruit Fly
By Karen Young Kreeger
Of all the animal species described thus far by scientists, insects account for nearly five-sixths. Nearly 1 million are already identified, with taxonomists estimating another 1 million to go. Despite their ubiquity on Earth, the study of insects has only recently been married to the explosion of molecular biological tools that have come on the scene in the last 15 years.
Sidebar: Resources for Entomologists
David A. O'Brochta, an associate professor at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute's Center for Agricultural Biotechnology, observes that the increasing interest in the molecular biology of insects stems mostly from their medical and agricultural significance: "I think the genetic-engineering technology developed in my and other labs is going to be for the purposes of studying insects because they're pests or are beneficial. This technology will be used for making...