Daniel Bopp

Genes that determine sex in insects

Developmental processes are regulated by cascades of control genes. We are investigating the evolution of such genetic pathways by comparing the known sex-determining genes of Drosophila melanogaster to those of the housefly Musca domestica and other insects. We find that the genes at the end of the Drosophila          
cascade, doublesex and its direct regulators, transformer and transformer2 are highly conserved and probably represent the ancient switch system that controls sexual differentiation. In contrast, the genes that control this system have largely diverged between the different insect groups. We are presently analysing the structure and function of such regulatory genes in other in the houserfly and other dipteran species with the aim to unveil the adaptive changes regulatory genes can undergo in evolution.