Genetic control of male production in Daphnia pulex

Zhiqiang Ye, Cécile Molinier, Chaoxian Zhao, Christoph R. Haag, Michael Lynch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Daphnia normally reproduce by cyclical parthenogenesis, with offspring sex being determined by environmental cues. However, some females have lost the ability to produce males. Our results demonstrate that this loss of male-producing ability is controlled by a dominant allele at a single locus. We identified the locus by comparing whole-genome sequences of 67 nonmale-producing (NMP) and 100 male-producing (MP) clones from 5 Daphnia pulex populations, revealing 132 NMP-linked SNPs and 59 NMP-linked indels within a single 1.1-Mb nonrecombining region on chromosome I. These markers include 7 nonsynonymous mutations, all of which are located within one unannotated protein-coding gene (gene 8960). Within this single gene, all of the marker-linked NMP haplotypes from different populations form a monophyletic clade, suggesting a single origin of the NMP phenotype, with the NMP haplotype originating by introgression from a sister species, Daphnia pulicaria. Methyl farnesoate (MF) is the innate juvenile hormone in daphnids, which induces the production of males and whose inhibition results in female-only production. Gene 8960 is sensitive to treatment by MF in MP clones, but such responsiveness is greatly reduced in NMP clones. Thus, we hypothesize that gene 8960 is located downstream of the MF-signaling pathway in D. pulex, with the NMP phenotype being caused by expression change of gene 8960.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15602-15609
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number31
StatePublished - Jul 30 2019


  • Daphnia pulex
  • Methyl farnesoate
  • Nonmale producing
  • Sex determination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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