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Genetics. 1998 May;149(1):233-42.

Evidence for a genomic imprinting sex determination mechanism in Nasonia vitripennis (Hymenoptera; Chalcidoidea).

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  • 1Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


Five different models have been proposed for the sex determination mechanism of Chalcidoidea (Hymenoptera). Except for the most recently proposed model (genomic imprinting sex determination; GISD), each of these models has required complicating additions to explain observed phenomena. This report provides the first experimental test of the GISD model while simultaneously examining the four previously proposed models of sex determination. This test utilizes the parasitic wasp Nasonia vitripennis, crossing polyploid females with males harboring the paternal sex ratio chromosome (PSR). The results of this study support the GISD model as the mechanism of sex determination in Chalcidoidea. Specifically, crosses demonstrate that sex determination is independent of embryonic heterozygosity, ploidy, and gametic syngamy but is directly correlated with the embryonic presence of correctly imprinted chromosomes of paternal origin. These crossing experiments also provide information about the poorly characterized mechanisms of PSR, a supernumerary chromosome that induces paternal autosome loss in early embryos. The results demonstrate that the poor transmission of PSR through females is not a result of the ploidy of the host but of an alternative sex-dependent process. Crossing data reveal that PSR consistently induces the loss of the entire paternal complement that it accompanies, regardless of whether this complement is haploid or diploid.

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