Quantitative trait locus analysis of mating behavior and male sex pheromones in Nasonia wasps

Wenwen Diao, Mathilde Mousset, Gavin J. Horsburgh, Cornelis J. Vermeulen, Frank Johannes, Louis van de Zande, Michael G. Ritchie, Thomas Schmitt, Leo W. Beukeboom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


A major focus in speciation genetics is to identify the chromosomal regions and genes that reduce hybridization and gene flow. We investigated the genetic architecture of mating behavior in the parasitoid wasp species pair Nasonia giraulti and Nasonia oneida that exhibit strong prezygotic isolation. Behavioral analysis showed that N. oneida females had consistently higher latency times, and broke off the mating sequence more often in the mounting stage when confronted with N. giraulti males compared with males of their own species. N. oneida males produce a lower quantity of the long-range male sex pheromone (4R,5S)-5-hydroxy-4-decanolide (RS-HDL). Crosses between the two species yielded hybrid males with various pheromone quantities, and these males were used in mating trials with females of either species to measure female mate discrimination rates. A quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis involving 475 recombinant hybrid males (F2), 2148 reciprocally backcrossed females (F3), and a linkage map of 52 equally spaced neutral single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers plus SNPs in 40 candidate mating behavior genes revealed four QTL for male pheromone amount, depending on partner species. Our results demonstrate that the RS-HDL pheromone plays a role in the mating system of N. giraulti and N. oneida, but also that additional communication cues are involved in mate choice. No QTL were found for female mate discrimination, which points at a polygenic architecture of female choice with strong environmental influences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1549-1562
Number of pages14
JournalG3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics
Issue number6
Early online date26 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • Nasonia courtship
  • Female choice
  • Sex pheromone
  • QTL analysis
  • Speciation


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