PerspectiveDevelopment

A factor to control Medfly sex

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Science  27 Sep 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6460, pp. 1380-1381
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz0217

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Summary

The primary signals that determine sex are diverse. Temperature during embryonic development establishes sex in many reptiles. Mammals and some insects rely on a single gene. The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, counts the number of X chromosomes, and bees detect the number of sets of chromosomes (ploidy). There are even populations within a species that use different primary signals (1). The invasive tephritid fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata—commonly known as the Medfly—can damage fruit crops, and so it is controlled by the release of sterile males, which requires techniques to select males (2). The lack of genetic tools in other members of this large and destructive family precludes the use of this method. On page 1457 of this issue, Meccariello et al. (3) identify the C. capitata male-determining factor, Maleness-on-the-Y (MoY). This factor is functionally conserved in other tephritids, providing a new tool to manipulate their reproduction.

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