Location: Bee Research LaboratoryTitle: Functional and evolutionary insights from the genomes of three parasitoid nasonia species) Author
Submitted to: Science Magazine
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/20/2009
Publication Date: 2/15/2010
Citation: Werren, J.H., Richards, S., Desjardins, C.A., Niehuis, O., Gadau, J., Colbourne, J.K., Elsik, C.G., Murphy, T., Worley, K.C., Zdobnov, E.M., Evans, J.D., Dang, P.M., Hunter, W.B. 2010. Functional and evolutionary insights from the genomes of three parasitoid nasonia species. Science Magazine. 327:343-348. Interpretive Summary: Parasitoid wasps are key biocontrol agents in agriculture, and genomic insights can be used to better raise and maintain these beneficial insects in controlling important crop pests. This project provides the first genome-level view of a wasp, and a framework for understanding wasp biology at levels ranging from the ability to smell their insect hosts to the ability to exploit different host species and the susceptibility of wasps to pesticides and other environmental molecule. These wasps are also in the same insect group as honey bees and there is much anticipation that a comparison between the wasp and bee genomes can better define what it means to be social and the genetic blueprint of two beneficial insects with such different biologies. This project has identified genes involved with wasp behavior, development, and immunity, and the resulting information can help drive researchers and industry members to produce improved means of maintain beneficial insects and deterring agricultural pests.
Technical Abstract: Parasitoid wasps are significant natural enemies of a broad range of arthropods with considerable ecological and economic impact. There are more species beneficial to humans among the parasitoid wasps than in any other insect group. They have haplodiploid sex determination (development of males from unfertilized eggs and females from fertilized eggs), facilitating their use as models for the genetic analysis of complex traits. Here we report three genome sequences from parasitoid wasps – the jewel wasp Nasonia vitripennis, and its two sibling species N. giraulti and N. longicornis. Among the key findings are presence of a “vertebrate-like” methylation toolkit and DNA methylation, a suite of “hymenopteran specific” genes including venom genes of potential pharmacological use, abundance of transposable elements (in contrast to honey bee), lateral gene transfers among Pox viruses, Wolbachia and Nasonia, and rapid evolution of genes involved in nuclear-mitochondrial interactions among closely related Nasonia species consistent with nuclear-mitochondrial incompatibilities in interspecies hybrids. Genome scaffolds have been efficiently mapped onto the five chromosomes of Nasonia using haploid interspecies hybrid males. Additional genetic resources developed from the genome are highlighted, including dense SNP, microsatellite and indel maps as well as expression and genotyping microarrays. These tools make Nasonia an efficient system for cloning of quantitative trait loci (QTL), for which we provide examples. Advances emerging from the Nasonia genome will accelerate our understanding of parasitoid biology, potentially greatly enhancing their application in biological pest.