Genomics of sex allocation in the parasitoid wasp Nasonia vitripennis

Bart A. Pannebakker, Nicola Cook, Joost van den Heuvel, Louis van de Zande, David M. Shuker

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Whilst adaptive facultative sex allocation has been widely studied at the phenotypic level across a broad range of organisms, we still know remarkably little about its genetic architecture. Here, we explore the genome-wide basis of sex ratio variation in the parasitoid wasp Nasonia vitripennis, perhaps the best studied organism in terms of sex allocation, and well known for its response to local mate competition.


We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) for single foundress sex ratios using iso-female lines derived from the recently developed outbred N. vitripennis laboratory strain HVRx. The iso-female lines capture a sample of the genetic variation in HVRx and we present them as the first iteration of the Nasonia vitripennis Genome Reference Panel (NVGRP 1.0). This panel provides an assessment of the standing genetic variation for sex ratio in the study population. Using the NVGRP, we discovered a cluster of 18 linked SNPs, encompassing 9 annotated loci associated with sex ratio variation. Furthermore, we found evidence that sex ratio has a shared genetic basis with clutch size on three different chromosomes.


Our approach provides a thorough description of the quantitative genetic basis of sex ratio variation in Nasonia at the genome level and reveals a number of inter-related candidate loci underlying sex allocation regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number499
Number of pages14
JournalBMC Genomics
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2020


  • Local mate competition
  • Nasonia
  • Oviposition
  • Parasitoid wasp
  • Sex allocation
  • Genetic reference panel
  • Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)
  • Genome-wide association study (GWAS)


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