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Insects. 2012 Feb 10;3(1):161-99. doi: 10.3390/insects3010161.

Insect Sex Determination Manipulated by Their Endosymbionts: Incidences, Mechanisms and Implications.

Author information

1
Insect-Microbe Research Unit, National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (NIAS), Owashi 1-2, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8634, Japan. kagymad@affrc.go.jp.
2
Insect-Microbe Research Unit, National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (NIAS), Owashi 1-2, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8634, Japan. naritas@affrc.go.jp.
3
Insect-Microbe Research Unit, National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (NIAS), Owashi 1-2, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8634, Japan. wtnbm1ab@affrc.go.jp.

Abstract

The sex-determining systems of arthropods are surprisingly diverse. Some species have male or female heterogametic sex chromosomes while other species do not have sex chromosomes. Most species are diploids but some species, including wasps, ants, thrips and mites, are haplodiploids (n in males; 2n in females). Many of the sexual aberrations, such as sexual mosaics, sex-specific lethality and conversion of sexuality, can be explained by developmental defects including double fertilization of a binucleate egg, loss of a sex chromosome or perturbation of sex-determining gene expression, which occur accidentally or are induced by certain environmental conditions. However, recent studies have revealed that such sexual aberrations can be caused by various groups of vertically-transmitted endosymbiotic microbes such as bacteria of the genera Wolbachia, Rickettsia, Arsenophonus, Spiroplasma and Cardinium, as well as microsporidian protists. In this review, we first summarize the accumulated data on endosymbiont-induced sexual aberrations, and then discuss how such endosymbionts affect the developmental system of their hosts and what kinds of ecological and evolutionary effects these endosymbionts have on their host populations.

KEYWORDS:

Wolbachia; endosymbiont; feminization; insect; male killing; sex determination

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