Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Genomics and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Six novel Y chromosome genes in Anopheles mosquitoes discovered by independently sequencing males and females

Andrew Brantley Hall1, Yumin Qi1, Vladimir Timoshevskiy2, Maria V Sharakhova2, Igor V Sharakhov2 and Zhijian Tu1*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA

2 Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2013, 14:273  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-273

Published: 23 April 2013

Abstract

Background

Y chromosomes are responsible for the initiation of male development, male fertility, and other male-related functions in diverse species. However, Y genes are rarely characterized outside a few model species due to the arduous nature of studying the repeat-rich Y.

Results

The chromosome quotient (CQ) is a novel approach to systematically discover Y chromosome genes. In the CQ method, genomic DNA from males and females is sequenced independently and aligned to candidate reference sequences. The female to male ratio of the number of alignments to a reference sequence, a parameter called the chromosome quotient (CQ), is used to determine whether the sequence is Y-linked. Using the CQ method, we successfully identified known Y sequences from Homo sapiens and Drosophila melanogaster. The CQ method facilitated the discovery of Y chromosome sequences from the malaria mosquitoes Anopheles stephensi and An. gambiae. Comparisons to transcriptome sequence data with blastn led to the discovery of six Anopheles Y genes, three from each species. All six genes are expressed in the early embryo. Two of the three An. stephensi Y genes were recently acquired from the autosomes or the X. Although An. stephensi and An. gambiae belong to the same subgenus, we found no evidence of Y genes shared between the species.

Conclusions

The CQ method can reliably identify Y chromosome sequences using the ratio of alignments from male and female sequence data. The CQ method is widely applicable to species with fragmented genome assemblies produced from next-generation sequencing data. Analysis of the six Y genes characterized in this study indicates rapid Y chromosome evolution between An. stephensi and An. gambiae. The Anopheles Y genes discovered by the CQ method provide unique markers for population and phylogenetic analysis, and opportunities for novel mosquito control measures through the manipulation of sexual dimorphism and fertility.