The jewel wasp Nasonia: querying the genome with haplo-diploid genetics

Genesis. 2003 Mar;35(3):185-91. doi: 10.1002/gene.10189.


The jewel wasp Nasonia vitripennis is considered the "Drosophila melanogaster of the Hymenoptera." This diminutive wasp offers insect geneticists a means for applying haplo-diploid genetics to the analysis of developmental processes. As in bees, haploid males develop from unfertilized eggs, while diploid females develop from fertilized eggs. Nasonia's advantageous combination of haplo-diploid genetics and ease of handling in the laboratory facilitates screening the entire genome for recessive mutations affecting a developmental process of interest. This approach is currently directed toward understanding the evolution of embryonic pattern formation by comparing Nasonia embryogenesis to that of Drosophila. Haplo-diploid genetics also facilitates developing molecular maps and mapping polygenic traits. Moreover, Nasonia embryos are also proving amenable to cell biological analysis. These capabilities are being exploited to understand a variety of behavioral, developmental, and evolutionary processes, ranging from cytoplasmic incompatibility to the evolution of wing morphology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Diploidy*
  • Genome*
  • Haploidy*
  • Phylogeny
  • Sex Determination Processes
  • Time Factors
  • Wasps / embryology
  • Wasps / genetics*