Scientists have mapped the complete genome of an insect that does billions of pounds of damage to food crops worldwide.

The US National Human Genome Research Institute has led a project to map the DNA of the pea aphid. It is part of a family of small plant-eating insects that not only ruin crops but also spread viruses.

Scientists at the Scottish Crop Research Institute are analysing the data and will investigate the particular reproductive capabilities of aphids, which can produce offspring asexually. It is hoped new methods of control can be developed to reduce their impact.