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Silencing of the DNA methyltransferase 1 associated protein 1 (DMAP1) gene in the invasive ladybird Harmonia axyridis implies a role of the DNA methyltransferase 1-DMAP1 complex in female fecundity

: Gegner, J.; Gegner, T.; Vogel, H.; Vilcinskas, A.

Fulltext ()

Insect molecular biology 29 (2020), No.2, pp.148-159
ISSN: 0962-1075
ISSN: 0307-6975
ISSN: 1365-2583
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG
VI 219/7-1
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG
VO 84171
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IME ()

The invasive harlequin ladybird Harmonia axyridis is a textbook example of polymorphism and polyphenism as the temperature during egg development determines the frequency of melanic morphs and the number and size of black spots in nonmelanic morphs. Recent concepts in evolutionary biology suggest that epigenetic mechanisms can translate environmental stimuli into heritable phenotypic changes. To investigate whether epigenetic mechanisms influence the penetrance and expressivity of colour morphs in H. axyridis, we used RNA interference to silence key enzymes required for DNA methylation and histone modification. We found that neither of these epigenetic mechanisms affected the frequency of different morphs, but there was a significant impact on life-history traits such as longevity and fecundity. Strikingly, we found that silencing the gene encoding for DNA methyltransferase 1 associated protein 1 (DMAP1) severely reduced female fecundity, which correlated with an abundance of degenerated ovaries in DMAP1-knockdown female beetles. Finally, we observed significant differences in DMAP1 expression when we compared native and invasive H. axyridis populations with a biocontrol strain differing in egg-laying capacity, suggesting that the DNA methyltransferase 1-DMAP1 complex may influence the invasive performance of this ladybird.