Identification of Genes Uniquely Expressed in the Germ-Line Tissues of the Jewel Wasp Nasonia Vitripennis

G3 (Bethesda). 2015 Oct 13;5(12):2647-53. doi: 10.1534/g3.115.021386.


The jewel wasp Nasonia vitripennis is a rising model organism for the study of haplo-diploid reproduction characteristic of hymenopteran insects, which include all wasps, bees, and ants. We performed transcriptional profiling of the ovary, the female soma, and the male soma of N. vitripennis to complement a previously existing transcriptome of the wasp testis. These data were deposited into an open-access genome browser for visualization of transcripts relative to their gene models. We used these data to identify the assemblies of genes uniquely expressed in the germ-line tissues. We found that 156 protein-coding genes are expressed exclusively in the wasp testis compared with only 22 in the ovary. Of the testis-specific genes, eight are candidates for male-specific DNA packaging proteins known as protamines. We found very similar expression patterns of centrosome associated genes in the testis and ovary, arguing that de novo centrosome formation, a key process for development of unfertilized eggs into males, likely does not rely on large-scale transcriptional differences between these tissues. In contrast, a number of meiosis-related genes show a bias toward testis-specific expression, despite the lack of true meiosis in N. vitripennis males. These patterns may reflect an unexpected complexity of male gamete production in the haploid males of this organism. Broadly, these data add to the growing number of genomic and genetic tools available in N. vitripennis for addressing important biological questions in this rising insect model organism.

Keywords: Nasonia; chromatin; ovary; testis; transcriptome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Diploidy
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression*
  • Genes, Insect*
  • Germ Cells / metabolism*
  • Haploidy
  • Male
  • Organ Specificity
  • Ovary / metabolism
  • Testis / metabolism
  • Transcriptome
  • Wasps / genetics*