Extensive zygotic control of the anteroposterior axis in the wasp Nasonia vitripennis

Mary Anne Pultz, Jason N. Pitt, Neal M. Alto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations


Insect axis formation is best understood in Drosophila melanogaster, where rapid anteroposterior pattering of zygotic determinants is directed by maternal gene products. The earliest zygotic control is by gap genes, which determine regions of several contiguous segments and are largely conserved in insects. We have asked genetically whether early zygotic patterning genes control similar anteroposterior domains in the parasitoid wasp Nasonia vitripennis as in Drosophila. Nasonia is advantageous for identifying and studying recessive zygotic lethal mutations because unfertilized eggs develop as males while fertilized eggs develop as females. Here we describe recessive zygotic mutations identifying three Nasonia genes: head only mutant embryos have posterior defects, resembling loss of both maternal and zygotic Drosophila caudal function; headless mutant embryos have anterior and posterior gap defects, resembling loss of both maternal and zygotic Drosophila hunchback function; squiggy mutant embryos develop only four full trunk segments, a phenotype more severe than those caused by lack of Drosophila maternal or zygotic terminal gene functions. These results indicate greater dependence on the zygotic genome to control early pattering in Nasonia than in the fly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)701-710
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 1 1999



  • Drosophila
  • Nasonia
  • Ultrabithorax
  • Zygotic control
  • abdominal-A
  • caudal
  • engrailed
  • hunchback

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology

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