Dutch researcher Joke van Vugt investigated extremely selfish chromosomes which ensure only male offspring in two species of parasitoid wasps. She discovered that the discriminating chromosomes in the two species are not genetically similar, even though they have exactly the same effect.
Parasitoid wasps are haplodiploid. This means that the male wasps develop from unfertilised eggs and only have one set of chromosomes, namely those of their mother. Female wasps develop from fertilised eggs and have two sets of chromosomes: one from their mother and one from their father.
A special egoistic B chromosome is present in some males of the parasitoid wasp species Trichogramma kaykai and Nasonia vitripennis. Although this chromosome has the same effect and a similar structure in both wasps, Van Vugt demonstrated that both chromosomes do not share any DNA sequence homology. From this she concluded that both types of the chromosome have a different origin. Therefore the existence of more such B chromosomes in other insect species seems likely. This could also point to a simple molecular mechanism of these chromosomes which has developed more than once during the course of evolution.
Dr Joke J.F.A. van Vugt | alfa
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