Molecular Evolution

Beetle ornaments mediated epigenetically

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Science  06 Jan 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6320, pp. 36
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6320.36-b

Many male beetles exhibit enlarged ornaments and weapons, which are believed to function in sexual selection. However, the size and degree to which these structures can develop in an individual is variable and dependent on nutrition. Ozawa et al. found that the nutritional effect on the size of the mouthparts of the broadhorned flour beetle is mediated by epigenetic modifying factors, such as histone deactylases and Polycomb group proteins. Silencing of one histone deacetylase (HDAC1) in the beetle larvae shrank the mandibles of the ensuing adults, whereas silencing of another (HDAC3) led to exaggerated mouthparts without much affecting other body parts. The results indicate that ornamentation in these beetles is under modular epigenetic control.

Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1615688114 (2016).

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