Genetics of sex determination in the haplodiploid wasp Nasonia vitripennis (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea)

J Genet. 2010 Sep;89(3):333-9. doi: 10.1007/s12041-010-0045-7.


The parasitoid wasp Nasonia vitripennis reproduces by haplodiploidy; males are haploid and females are diploid. Sex determination in Nasonia is not governed by complementary alleles at one or more sex loci. As in most other insects, the sex-determining pathway consists of the basal switch doublesex that is sex-specifically regulated by transformer. Analysis of a polyploid and a mutant gynandromorphic strain, suggested a parent-specific effect (imprinting) on sex determination in Nasonia. Zygotic activity of transformer is autoregulated and depends on a combination of maternal provision of tra mRNA and a paternal genome set. This constitutes a novel way of transformer control in insect sex determination implying maternal imprinting. The nature of the maternal imprint is not yet known and it remains to be determined how broadly the Nasonia sex-determining mechanism applies to other haplodiploids.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diploidy*
  • Female
  • Haploidy*
  • Male
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Sex Determination Processes / genetics*
  • Wasps / genetics*