Journal Article

Transcriptional Changes Associated with Lack of Lipid Synthesis in Parasitoids

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

in Genome Biology and Evolution

Published on behalf of Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution

Volume 4, issue 8, pages 752-762
Published in print January 2012 |
Published online July 2012 | e-ISSN: 1759-6653 | DOI:

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Genetics and Genomics


Show Summary Details


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 ingestion of dietary sugar, and a lack of incorporation of isotopic labels into lipid reserves when fed deuterated sugar 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 new insights into the molecular mechanism that underlies phenotypic regression of this trait.

Keywords: phenotypic regression; lack of lipogenesis; fatty acid synthase; metabolism; gene transcription

Journal Article.  7405 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology ; Evolutionary Biology ; Genetics and Genomics

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.