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Genetics. Mar 2000; 154(3): 1213–1229.
PMCID: PMC1460985

A genetic screen for zygotic embryonic lethal mutations affecting cuticular morphology in the wasp Nasonia vitripennis.

Abstract

We have screened for zygotic embryonic lethal mutations affecting cuticular morphology in Nasonia vitripennis (Hymenoptera; Chalcidoidea). Our broad goal was to investigate the use of Nasonia for genetically surveying conservation and change in regulatory gene systems, as a means to understand the diversity of developmental strategies that have arisen during the course of evolution. Specifically, we aim to compare anteroposterior patterning gene functions in two long germ band insects, Nasonia and Drosophila. In Nasonia, unfertilized eggs develop as haploid males while fertilized eggs develop as diploid females, so the entire genome can be screened for recessive zygotic mutations by examining the progeny of F1 females. We describe 74 of >100 lines with embryonic cuticular mutant phenotypes, including representatives of coordinate, gap, pair-rule, segment polarity, homeotic, and Polycomb group functions, as well as mutants with novel phenotypes not directly comparable to those of known Drosophila genes. We conclude that Nasonia is a tractable experimental organism for comparative developmental genetic study. The mutants isolated here have begun to outline the extent of conservation and change in the genetic programs controlling embryonic patterning in Nasonia and Drosophila.

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