Complementary sex determination, inbreeding depression and inbreeding avoidance in a gregarious sawfly

K. E. Harper, R. K. Bagley, K. L. Thompson, C. R. Linnen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Although most Hymenoptera reproduce via arrhenotokous haplodiploidy, the underlying genetic mechanisms vary. Of these, the most widespread mechanism appears to be single-locus complementary sex determination (sl-CSD), in which individuals that are diploid and heterozygous at a sex-determining locus are female, and individuals that are homozygous or hemizygous are male. Because inbreeding increases the probability of producing diploid males, which are often sterile or inviable, sl-CSD can generate substantial inbreeding depression. To counteract this, Hymenoptera with traits that promote inbreeding, such as gregariousness, may evolve one or more of the following: inbreeding avoidance, functional diploid males or alternative sex determination mechanisms. Here, we investigate sex determination, inbreeding depression and inbreeding avoidance in Neodiprion lecontei, a gregarious, pine-feeding sawfly in the family Diprionidae. First, via inbreeding experiments and flow cytometry, we demonstrate that this species has CSD. By modeling expected sex ratios under different conditions, we also show that our data are consistent with sl-CSD. Second, via tracking survival in inbred and outbred families, we demonstrate that inbred families have reduced larval survival and that this mortality is partly attributable to the death of diploid males. Third, using a no-choice mating assay, we demonstrate that females are less willing to mate with siblings than nonsiblings. Together, these results suggest that inbreeding depression stemming from CSD has shaped mating behavior in N. lecontei. These results also set the stage for future comparative work that will investigate the interplay between sex determination, ecology and behavior in additional diprionid species that vary in larval gregariousness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-335
Number of pages10
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
For this research was provided by the National Science Foundation (DEB-1257739; to CRL), a USDA-NIFA Predoctoral Fellowship (2015-67011-22803; to RKB) and University of Kentucky Multi-Year and Daniel R. Reedy fellowships (to RKB).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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