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An article selected by Faculty of 1000

posted Feb 26, 2012, 4:38 PM by Yukio Ishikawa   [ updated Mar 12, 2012, 6:31 PM ]
One of the articles published from our lab, "A male-killing Wolbachia carries a feminizing factor and is associated with degradation of the sex-determining system of its host (Biol Lett 2012 Jan 4)", has been selected and evaluated by Nina Wedell, a Member of the Faculty of 1000 (F1000), which places this work the top 2% of published articles in biology and medicine. 

This intriguing study indicates that male-killing Wolbachia carries a genetic factor that feminizes genetic Ostrinia scapulalis male moths, thereby causing a mismatch between the genetic and phenotypic sex resulting in death. The interaction between genetic and phenotypic sex was determined in normal, infected, and infected-and-cured individuals using a sex-specifically spliced homologue of doublesex (Osdsx) and sex chromatin bodies unique to genetic female moths. This revealed that female spliced Osdsx was expressed in infected male larvae destined to die, whereas the male Osdsx type was expressed in females causing them to die. These results indicate that the male-killing Wolbachia carries a feminizing factor that interferes with the sex-determination system of the host, possibly by affecting the sex-specific splicing of Osdsx. The results also indicate a degradation of the sex-determination system as genetic females cured of infection become masculinized and express the male Osdsx type resulting in death. Taken together, the observed discourse between genetic and phenotypic sexes appears to be responsible for embryonic death and that feminization may in fact underlie male killing in this species. This tentatively hints at common mechanisms potentially underlying the diversity of reproductive manipulations of this endosymbiont.