Induction of paternal genome loss by the paternal-sex-ratio chromosome and cytoplasmic incompatibility bacteria (Wolbachia): a comparative study of early embryonic events

Mol Reprod Dev. 1995 Apr;40(4):408-18. doi: 10.1002/mrd.1080400404.


Paternal genome loss (PGL) during early embryogenesis is caused by two different genetic elements in the parasitoid wasp, Nasonia vitripennis. Paternal sex ratio (PSR) is a paternally inherited supernumerary chromosome that disrupts condensation of the paternal chromosomes by the first mitotic division of fertilized eggs. Bacteria belonging to the genus Wolbachia are present in Nasonia eggs and also disrupt paternal chromosome condensation in crosses between cytoplasmically incompatible strains. Cytoplasmic incompatibility Wolbachia are widespread in insects, whereas PSR is specific to this wasp. PGL results in production of male progeny in Nasonia due to haplodiploid sex determination. The cytological events associated with PGL induced by the PSR chromosome and by Wolbachia were compared by fluorescent light microscopy using the fluorochrome Hoescht 33258. Cytological examination of eggs fertilized with PSR-bearing sperm revealed that a dense paternal chromatin mass forms prior to the first metaphase. Quantification of chromatin by epifluorescence indicates that this mass does undergo replication along with the maternal chromatin prior to the first mitotic division but does not replicate during later mitotic cycles. Contrary to previous reports using other staining methods, the paternal chromatin mass remains condensed during interphase and persists over subsequent mitotic cycles, at least until formation of the syncytial blastoderm and cellularization, at which time it remains near the center of the egg with the yolk nuclei. Wolbachia-induced PGL shows several marked differences. Most notable is that the paternal chromatin mass is more diffuse and tends to be fragmented during the first mitotic division, with portions becoming associated with the daughter nuclei. Nuclei containing portions of the paternal chromatin mass appear to be delayed in subsequent mitotic divisions relative to nuclei free of paternal chromatin. Crosses combining incompatibility with PSR were cytologically similar to Wolbachia-induced PGL, although shearing of the paternal chromatin mass was reduced. Wolbachia may, therefore, block an earlier stage of paternal chromatin processing in the fertilized eggs than does PSR.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / microbiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Genome
  • Male
  • Sex Chromosomes / genetics*
  • Wasps / embryology*
  • Wasps / genetics
  • Wasps / microbiology