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Keywords:

  • DM domain genes;
  • doublesex;
  • haplodiploidy;
  • Hymenoptera;
  • sex determination

Abstract

The doublesex (dsx) gene of the parasitic wasp Nasonia vitripennis is described and characterized. Differential splicing of dsx transcripts has been shown to induce somatic sexual differentiation in Diptera and Lepidoptera, but not yet in other insect orders. Two spliceforms of Nasonia dsx mRNA are differentially expressed in males and females. In addition, in a gynandromorphic line that produces haploids (normally males) with full female phenotypes, these individuals show the female spliceform, providing the first demonstration of a direct association of dsx with somatic sex differentiation in Hymenoptera. Finally, the DNA binding (DM) domain of Nasonia dsx clusters phylogenetically with dsx from other insects, and Nasonia dsx shows microsynteny with dsx of Apis, further supporting identification of the dsx orthologue in Nasonia.