Nematodes and insects are the two most speciose animal phyla and nematode-insect associations encompass widespread biological interactions. To dissect the chemical signals and the genes mediating this association, we investigated the effect of an oriental beetle sex pheromone on the development and behavior of the nematode Pristionchus pacificus. We found that while the beetle pheromone is attractive to P. pacificus adults, the pheromone arrests embryo development, paralyzes J2 larva, and inhibits exit of dauer larvae. To uncover the mechanism that regulate insect pheromone sensitivity, a newly identified mutant, Ppa-obi-1, is used to reveal the molecular links between altered attraction toward the beetle pheromone, as well as hypersensitivity to its paralyzing effects. Ppa-obi-1 encodes lipid-binding domains and reaches its highest expression in various cell types, including the amphid neuron sheath and excretory cells. Our data suggests that the beetle host pheromone may be a species-specific volatile synomone that coevolved with necromeny.
- Oliver Hobert, Columbia University, United States
© 2014, Cinkornpumin et al.
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A beetle pheromone that lures nematode worms to an insect host can also stop their development or even kill them outright.
Ascidians with very similar embryos but highly divergent genomes are thought to have undergone extensive developmental system drift. We compared, in four species (Ciona and Phallusia for Phlebobranchia, Molgula and Halocynthia for Stolidobranchia), gene expression and gene regulation for a network of six transcription factors regulating peripheral nervous system (PNS) formation in Ciona. All genes, but one in Molgula, were expressed in the PNS with some differences correlating with phylogenetic distance. Cross-species transgenesis indicated strong levels of conservation, except in Molgula, in gene regulation despite lack of sequence conservation of the enhancers. Developmental system drift in ascidians is thus higher for gene regulation than for gene expression and is impacted not only by phylogenetic distance, but also in a clade-specific manner and unevenly within a network. Finally, considering that Molgula is divergent in our analyses, this suggests deep conservation of developmental mechanisms in ascidians after 390 My of separate evolution.