Timing sexual differentiation: Full functional sex reversal achieved through silencing of a single insulin-like gene in the prawn, Macrobrachium rosenbergii

Tomer Ventura, Rivka Manor, Eliahu D. Aflalo, Simy Weil, Ohad Rosen, Amir Sagi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations

Abstract

In Crustacea, an early evolutionary group (;50 000 species) inhabiting most ecological niches, sex differentiation is regulated by a male-specific androgenic gland (AG). The identification of AG-specific insulin-like factors (IAGs) and genomic sex markers offers an opportunity for a deeper understanding of the sexual differentiation mechanism in crustaceans and other arthropods. Here, we report, to our knowledge, the first full and functional sex reversal of male freshwater prawns (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) through the silencing of a single IAGencoding gene. These "neofemales" produced all-male progeny, as proven by sex-specific genomic markers. This finding offers an insight regarding the biology and evolution of sex differentiation regulation, with a novel perspective for the evolution of insulinlike peptides. Our results demonstrate how temporal intervention with a key regulating gene induces a determinative, extreme phenotypic shift. Our results also carry tremendous ecological and commercial implications. Invasive and pest crustacean species represent genuine concerns worldwide without an apparent solution. Such efforts might, therefore, benefit from sexual manipulations, as has been successfully realized with other arthropods. Commercially, such manipulation would be significant in sexually dimorphic cultured species, allowing the use of nonbreeding, monosex populations while dramatically increasing yield and possibly minimizing the invasion of exotic cultured species into the environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number90
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Volume86
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2012

Keywords

  • Gene expression
  • Insulin-like androgenic gland hormone
  • Invertebrates
  • Sex differentiation
  • Sexual manipulation biotechnology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Cell Biology

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