Strong variation in frequencies of male and female determiners between neighboring housefly populations

Xuan Li*, Fangfei Lin, Louis van de Zande, Leo W Beukeboom

*Corresponding author for this work

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Sex-determination mechanisms evolve rapidly and vary between species. Occasionally, polymorphic systems are found, like in the housefly. Studying the dynamics and stability of such systems can provide a better understanding of the evolution of sex-determination systems. In the housefly, dominant male-determining loci (M) can lie not only on the Y chromosome (MY ), but also on autosomes (MA ) or the X chromosome (MX ). M enforces male development by inhibiting the female-determining gene transformer (tra). A mutant tra allele, traD , is insensitive to M and is a dominant female determiner. MY prevails at high latitudes and polymorphic M loci together with traD at low latitudes. To get more insight into the stability and frequencies of these sex determiners with mutually exclusive dominance, we investigated 5 regional Spanish populations. We found strong variation among populations. Two populations with hemizygous MIII were found, 2 contained homozygous MX with additional hemizygous MI and MII in 1 population. One population contained homozygous and hemizygous MX with additionally hemizygous MII . All females in populations with homozygous M, had traD , whereas no traD was found in populations without homozygous M. Our results indicate locally stable systems may either harbor a single hemizygous M and no traD , corresponding to a male heterogametic system, or homozygous and/or multiple M and heterozygous traD , reminiscent of a female heterogametic system. They support that M loci can accumulate in the presence of a dominant female determiner. Limited migration between populations may contribute to the stability of these systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1470-1482
Number of pages13
JournalInsect Science
Issue number5
Early online date23-Feb-2022
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2022

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