Transcriptional changes associated with lack of lipid synthesis in parasitoids

Bertanne Visser, Dick Roelofs, Daniel A Hahn, Peter E A Teal, Janine Mariën, Jacintha Ellers

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    Phenotypic regression of morphological, behavioral, or physiological traits can evolve when reduced trait expression has neutral or beneficial effects on overall performance. Studies on the evolution of phenotypic degradation in animals have concentrated mostly on the evaluation of resulting phenotypes, whereas much less research has been dedicated to uncovering the molecular mechanisms that underlie phenotypic regression. The majority of parasitoids (i.e., insects that develop on or inside other arthropods), do not accumulate lipid reserves during their free-living adult life-stage and represent an excellent system to study phenotypic regression in animals. Here, we study transcriptional patterns associated with lack of lipogenesis in the parasitic wasp Nasonia vitripennis.We first confirmed that N. vitripennis does not synthesize lipids by showing a reduction in lipid reserves despite ingestionofdietary sugar,anda lack of incorporationof isotopic labels into lipid reserveswhenfeddeuteratedsugar solution. Second, we investigated transcriptional responses of 28 genes involved in lipid and sugar metabolism in short- and long-term sugar-fed females relative to starved females of N. vitripennis. Sugar feeding did not induce transcription of fatty acid synthase (fas) or other key genes involved in the lipid biosynthesis pathway. Furthermore, several genes involved in carbohydrate metabolism had a lower transcription in fed than in starved females. Our results reveal that N. vitripennis gene transcription in response to dietary sugar deviates markedly from patterns typically observed in other organisms. This study is the first to identify differential gene transcription associated with lack of lipogenesis in parasitoids and provides newinsights into themolecularmechanism that underlies phenotypic regression of this trait. © 2012 The Author(s).
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)752-762
    Number of pages11
    JournalGenome Biology and Evolution
    Volume4 (8)
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • Animals
    • Biological Evolution
    • Carbohydrate Metabolism
    • Feeding Behavior
    • Female
    • Gene Expression Regulation
    • Insect Proteins
    • Lipids
    • Lipogenesis
    • Transcription, Genetic
    • Wasps
    • Journal Article
    • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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