A search for parent-of-origin effects in the parasitoid jewel wasp Nasonia vitripennis

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In most diploid cells, autosomal genes are equally expressed from the paternal and maternal alleles resulting in biallelic expression. However, as an exception, there exists a small number of genes

In most diploid cells, autosomal genes are equally expressed from the paternal and maternal alleles resulting in biallelic expression. However, as an exception, there exists a small number of genes that show a pattern of monoallelic or biased-allele expression based on the allele’s parent-of-origin. This phenomenon is termed genomic imprinting and is an evolutionary paradox. The best explanation for imprinting is David Haig's kinship theory, which hypothesizes that monoallelic gene expression is largely the result of evolutionary conflict between males and females over maternal involvement in their offspring. One previous RNAseq study has investigated the presence of parent-of-origin effects, or imprinting, in the parasitic jewel wasp Nasonia vitripennis (N. vitripennis) and its sister species Nasonia giraulti (N. giraulti) to test the predictions of kinship theory in a non-eusocial species for comparison to a eusocial one. In order to continue to tease apart the connection between social and eusocial Hymenoptera, this study proposed a similar RNAseq study that attempted to reproduce these results in unique samples of reciprocal F1 Nasonia hybrids. Building a pseudo N. giraulti reference genome, differences were observed when aligning RNAseq reads to a N. vitripennis reference genome compared to aligning reads to a pseudo N. giraulti reference. As well, no evidence for parent-of-origin or imprinting patterns in adult Nasonia were found. These results demonstrated a species-of-origin effect. Importantly, the study continued to build a repository of support with the aim to elucidate the mechanisms behind imprinting in an excellent epigenetic model species, as it can also help with understanding the phenomenon of imprinting in complex human diseases.