Functional and Evolutionary Insights from the Genomes of Three Parasitoid Nasonia Species

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Science  15 Jan 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5963, pp. 343-348
DOI: 10.1126/science.1178028

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Parasitoid Wasp Genomes

Parasitoid wasps, which prey on and reproduce in host insect species, play important roles in plant herbivore interactions, and may provide valuable tools in the biological control of pest species. The Nasonia Genome Working Group (p. 343; see the news story by Pennisi) presents the genome of three very closely related species: Nasonia vitripennis, N. giraulti, and N. longicornis. The findings document rapid evolution between a host and endosymbiont that can cause nuclear-cytoplasmic incompatibilities that may affect speciation.


We report here genome sequences and comparative analyses of three closely related parasitoid wasps: Nasonia vitripennis, N. giraulti, and N. longicornis. Parasitoids are important regulators of arthropod populations, including major agricultural pests and disease vectors, and Nasonia is an emerging genetic model, particularly for evolutionary and developmental genetics. Key findings include the identification of a functional DNA methylation tool kit; hymenopteran-specific genes including diverse venoms; lateral gene transfers among Pox viruses, Wolbachia, and Nasonia; and the rapid evolution of genes involved in nuclear-mitochondrial interactions that are implicated in speciation. Newly developed genome resources advance Nasonia for genetic research, accelerate mapping and cloning of quantitative trait loci, and will ultimately provide tools and knowledge for further increasing the utility of parasitoids as pest insect-control agents.

  • All authors with their affiliations appear at the end of this paper.

  • Current address: Verhaltensbiologie, Universität Osnabrück, 49076 Osnabrück, Germany.

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