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The impact of endosymbionts on the evolution of host sex determination mechanisms

The impact of endosymbionts on the evolution of host sex determination mechanisms

Objective

Appreciation of endosymbiosis, a type of symbiosis in which a microbial partner lives within its host cells, as an important source of evolutionary novelty has developed relatively recently. In this proposal, we investigate a fundamental evolutionary process influenced by bacterial endosymbionts: the mechanisms of sex determination of their eukaryotic hosts.
In animals, the most common system of sex determination is genetic. It can also be affected by inherited bacterial endosymbionts. However, very few systems have been analyzed and there is no extensive empirical evidence of how endosymbionts can shape host sex-determining systems. In the isopod crustacean Armadillidium vulgare, genetic sex determination follows female heterogamety. However, many A. vulgare populations harbour Wolbachia bacterial endosymbionts which can invert genetic males into phenotypic functional females.
Other sex-determining factors have been identified in A. vulgare: a feminizing f element which may be a Wolbachia genome fragment carrying feminization information inserted into the host nuclear genome, and a masculinizing gene which can restore the male sex in the presence of the f element, as a result of a genetic conflict. Thus, sex determination mechanisms in A. vulgare seem to be largely driven by Wolbachia endosymbionts. However, the molecular genetic basis and evolutionary history of all these sex-determining factors is unknown.
The A. vulgare/Wolbachia model provides a unique opportunity for directly investigating the impact of endosymbionts on the evolution of host sex determination mechanisms at the molecular genetic level. We will address this issue using the latest developments of molecular genetics technologies, such as next-generation DNA sequencing and high throughput genotyping.
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Principal Investigator

Richard Cordaux (Dr.)

Host institution

CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS

Address

Rue Michel Ange 3
75794 Paris

France

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 1 403 285

Principal Investigator

Richard Cordaux (Dr.)

Administrative Contact

Patrice Soullie (Mr.)

Beneficiaries (1)

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CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS

France

EU Contribution

€ 1 403 285

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 260729

Status

Closed project

  • Start date

    1 January 2011

  • End date

    31 December 2015

Funded under:

FP7-IDEAS-ERC

  • Overall budget:

    € 1 403 285

  • EU contribution

    € 1 403 285

Hosted by:

CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS

France