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Heredity (Edinb). 2007 Sep;99(3):288-94. Epub 2007 Jun 6.

Diploid males sire triploid daughters and sons in the parasitoid wasp Cotesia vestalis.

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  • 11Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota, St Paul, MN 55108, USA.


In the Hymenoptera, males develop as haploids from unfertilized eggs and females develop as diploids from fertilized eggs. In species with complementary sex determination (CSD), however, diploid males develop from zygotes that are homozygous at a highly polymorphic sex locus or loci. We investigated mating behavior and reproduction of diploid males of the parasitoid wasp Cotesia vestalis (C. plutellae), for which we recently demonstrated CSD. We show that the behavior of diploid males of C. vestalis is similar to that of haploid males, when measured as the proportion of males that display wing fanning, and the proportion of males that mount a female. Approximately 29% of diploid males sired daughters, showing their ability to produce viable sperm that can fertilize eggs. Females mated to diploid males produced all-male offspring more frequently (71%) than females mated to haploid males (27%). Daughter-producing females that had mated to diploid males produced more male-biased sex ratios than females mated to haploid males. All daughters of diploid males were triploid and sterile. Three triploid sons were also found among the offspring of diploid males. It has been suggested that this scenario, that is, diploid males mating with females and constraining them to the production of haploid sons, has a large negative impact on population growth rate and secondary sex ratio. Selection for adaptations to reduce diploid male production in natural populations is therefore likely to be strong. We discuss different scenarios that may reduce the sex determination load in C. vestalis.

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