Ancestral state reconstruction analysis of hymenopteran sex determination mechanisms


Mark K. Asplen, Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota, 219 Hodson Hall, 1980 Folwell Ave., St. Paul, MN 55108, USA.
Tel.: +1 612 624 3715; fax: +1 612 625 5299; e-mail:


We provide the first phylogenetic evidence supporting complementary sex determination (CSD) as the ancestral mechanism for haplodiploidy in the Hymenoptera. It is currently not possible, however, to distinguish the evolutionary polarity of single locus (sl) CSD and multiple-locus (ml) CSD given the available data. In this light, we discuss the seemingly maladaptive hypothesis of ml-CSD ancestry, suggesting that collapse from ml-CSD to sl-CSD should remain a viable evolutionary hypothesis based on (i) likely weakening of frequency-dependent selection on sex alleles under ml-CSD and (ii) recent findings with respect to the evolutionary novelty of the complementary sex determiner gene in honeybees. Our findings help provide a phylogenetically informed blueprint for future sampling of sex determination mechanisms in the Hymenoptera, as they yield hypotheses for many unsampled or ambiguous taxa and highlight taxa whose further sampling will influence reconstruction of the evolutionary polarity of sex determination mechanisms in major clades.