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Abstract title The role of doublesex in sex specific pigmentation in the parasitic wasp, Nasonia.
Author Eveline Verhulst, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands (Presenting author)
Topic 19 Evolution of gene expression regulation
Abstract text

Insects have a remarkable diversity of sex determination mechanisms and sexual dimorphisms; even closely related species can have highly specific sexual dimorphic phenotypes. For example, in the parasitic wasp, Nasonia vitripennis, wing size is a dimorphic trait, but not so in N. giraulti and N. longicornis. More of these examples exist but the molecular basis of this diversity is poorly understood. The conserved transcription factor, doublesex (dsx) sets the switch to male or female development in all insects, but little is known of the downstream target genes that dsx regulates to shape sex-specific traits on a species-to-species basis. Many known species-specific sexual traits are candidate dsx targets, and elucidating these specific genes in different species will show the extent of evolutionary conservation of sex determining mechanisms.In N. vitripennis, the dsx gene has been identified but functional analyses showing its role in regulating sex-specific traits were lacking. Here, I will show our results of dsx RNAi knockdown resulting in the increase of leg and antennae pigmentation in males and thus the loss of a dimorphic trait in this species. These results will help us understand how sex determination links to sex-specific life histories and the evolutionary forces that shape it.