Sex chromosome evolution in moths and butterflies

Chromosome Research : an International Journal on the Molecular, Supramolecular and Evolutionary Aspects of Chromosome Biology
K SaharaW Traut

Abstract

Lepidoptera, i.e. moths and butterflies, have a female heterogametic sex chromosome system, with most females having a WZ constitution while males are ZZ. Besides this predominant WZ/ZZ system, Z/ZZ, WZ(1)Z(2)/Z(1)Z(1)Z(2)Z(2) and W(1)W(2)Z/ZZ systems also occur. Sex is determined by an unknown W-linked gene or genes in Bombyx mori, but by dosage-dependent and equally unknown Z-linked genes in all Z/ZZ species. The female heterogametic sex chromosome system has been conserved for at least 180 MY in the phylogenetic branch that combines Lepidoptera and Trichoptera. The W chromosome, which is present in most lepidopteran species, was incorporated in the sex chromosome system much later, about 90-100 MY ago. The Z chromosomes are highly conserved among Lepidoptera, much like the Z in birds or the X in mammals. The W, on the other hand, is evolving rapidly. It is crammed with repetitive elements which appear to have a high turnover rate but poor in or even devoid of protein-coding genes. It has frequently undergone fusion with autosomes or sporadically lost altogether.

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Related Concepts

Conserved Synteny
Genes, Insect
Chromosome Structures
Moths
Sex Chromosomes
Array-Based Comparative Genomic Hybridization
Trichoptera
Antheraea
Chromosomes
Biochemical Turnover

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