Sex determination, sex chromosomes, and karyotype evolution in insects

Heath Blackmon, Laura Ross, Doris Bachtrog

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations

Abstract

Insects harbor a tremendous diversity of sex determining mechanisms both within and between groups. For example, in some orders such as Hymenoptera, all members are haplodiploid, whereas Diptera contain species with homomorphic as well as male and female heterogametic sex chromosome systems or paternal genome elimination. We have established a large database on karyotypes and sex chromosomes in insects, containing information on over 13 000 species covering 29 orders of insects. This database constitutes a unique starting point to report phylogenetic patterns on the distribution of sex determination mechanisms, sex chromosomes, and karyotypes among insects and allows us to test general theories on the evolutionary dynamics of karyotypes, sex chromosomes, and sex determination systems in a comparative framework. Phylogenetic analysis reveals that male heterogamety is the ancestral mode of sex determination in insects, and transitions to female heterogamety are extremely rare. Many insect orders harbor species with complex sex chromosomes, and gains and losses of the sex-limited chromosome are frequent in some groups. Haplodiploidy originated several times within insects, and parthenogenesis is rare but evolves frequently. Providing a single source to electronically access data previously distributed among more than 500 articles and books will not only accelerate analyses of the assembled data, but also provide a unique resource to guide research on which taxa are likely to be informative to address specific questions, for example, for genome sequencing projects or large-scale comparative studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-93
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Heredity
Volume108
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Haplodiploidy
  • Insects
  • Karyotypes
  • Paternal genome elimination
  • Sex chromosomes
  • Sex determination

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