Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
About usNews and EventsNews articles

Genetic conflict and sex allocation in scale insects

10 December 2010

PhD ceremony: Ms. L. Ross, 13.15 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Thesis: Genetic conflict and sex allocation in scale insects

Promotor(s): prof. I. Pen, prof. L. Beukeboom, prof. F. Weissing

Faculty: Mathematics and Natural Sciences


Laura Ross has explored the hypothesis of the ‘selfish genes’ focussing on one particular group of organisms: the scale insects, which are characterized by their incredible variation in weird reproduction and genetics.

There is extensive variability in the way individuals of different species reproduce and how their genes are inherited from generation to generation. However why these processes - so fundamental for life - are so variable is poorly understood. A recent hypothesis suggests that reproductive processes might be variable because they are affected by the evolution of “selfish” genes that try to increase their own frequency in the next generation by hijacking the reproductive machinery. These genes are often harmful for the individual they are in and therefore other genes are selected to suppress the selfish ones. This results in what is called genetic conflict.

Ross has explored this hypothesis. Using a variety of different approaches, she suggests that some of the unusual ways in which scale insects reproduce might have indeed evolved as a result of conflict. These include asexual reproduction, hermaphroditism - where an individual can produce both sperm and eggs - and various systems where males develop from fertilized eggs but lose their father’s genes during development. Ross also shows that different types of conflict may interact in scale insects, including conflict between genes within an individual that come from either the mother or the father, but also conflict between genes of the scale insect and those of the bacteria that live within these insects.

Last modified:15 September 2017 3.39 p.m.
printView this page in: Nederlands

More news

  • 16 July 2019

    Thirteen Veni grants for young Groningen researchers

    Thirteen researchers from the University of Groningen (UG) and the UMCG have been awarded Veni grants within the framework of NWO’s Innovational Research Incentives Scheme. A terrific result building on last year's successes, where 12 Groningen researchers...

  • 11 July 2019

    UG to build new observatory in dark Lauwersmeer Region

    The Kapteyn Astronomical Institute of the University of Groningen is working on a concrete plan for a new observatory in the Dark Sky Park Lauwersmeer. The observatory will be placed at the Lauwersnest Activity Centre of Staatsbosbeheer in Lauwersoog...

  • 11 July 2019

    Major companies’ annual reports too vague about climate impact

    Many major Dutch companies publish extensive information about climate impact in their annual reports. However, very few companies provide concrete, detailed information about their own CO2 emissions, the impact of climate change on their business...