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CRISPR/Cas9 mediated disruption of the white gene leads to pigmentation deficiency and copulation failure in Drosophila suzukii

: Yan, Y.; Ziemek, J.; Schetelig, M.F.


Journal of insect physiology 126 (2020), Art. 104091
ISSN: 0022-1910
Fraunhofer IME ()

The Spotted-wing Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) is a devastating invasive pest of fruit crops. In D. melanogaster, the white (w) gene was associated with pigmentation and mating behavior, which are also important aspects to understand the invasion biology as well as to develop control strategies for D. suzukii. Here, we show that the generation of D. suzukii white-eyed mutants by CRISPR/Cas9 mutagenesis of the w gene resulted in the complete failure of copulation when w− males were individually paired with w− females in small circular arenas (diameter 0.7 cm) for 24 h. Further analysis showed that the mating defect was associated with w− males and could not be rectified by two years of inbreeding by crossing sibling w− females with w+ males, dim red illumination, male–female sexual training, changing to large arenas (diameter 3.5 cm), or different sex ratios. Profound pigmentation deficiency was detected in the compound eyes, ocelli, Malpighian tubules and testis sheaths in the w− flies. Specifically, testis imaging showed that w− males failed to deposit any pigments into pigment cells of the testis sheath, and produced smaller sperms and less seminal fluid compared to those from wildtype males. Together these observations suggest that the w gene plays an essential role in the regulation of sexual behavior and reproduction in D. suzukii. The similarities and differences in w gene function between D. suzukii and D. melanogaster in the context of pigmentation and mating behavior are discussed.