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Biological Sciences


The body louse (Pediculus humanus humanus) is known to have diverged from the head louse (P. humanus capitis) but genomic differences between these two subspecies still remain unexplored. To compare genomic profiles between head and body lice, whole genome sequences of head lice were determined by next generation sequencing methods based on both Illumina Genome analyzer and Roche GS FLX pyrosequencing and compared with the reference genome sequences of the body louse. Total consensuses generated by mapping to the body louse genome in conjunction with de novo assembly of head louse genome sequences revealed a head louse genome size of 110 Mbp with a 96% coverage of the body louse genome sequences. A total of 12,651 genes were predicted from the head louse genome sequences although more precise assembly and functional annotation of the genome is required for a more accurate gene count. Among the 873 genes that were putatively specific to the head louse, 15 genes were confirmed to be transcribed in both head and body lice, suggesting the previously estimated gene number of the body louse was likely underestimated. The single nucleotide polymorphism analysis showed that the nucleotide diversity of genome between head and body lice was 2.2%, which was larger than that of the transcriptome between head and body lice. An endosymbiont genome analysis showed that the composition of endosymbionts in head lice was similar to that of body lice and Candidatus Riesia pediculicola was the primary endosymbiont in both head and body lice.


This is an accepted manuscript of an article published by Elsevier in the Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology, available online at

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