Throughout their evolutionary history, genomes acquire new genetic material that facilitates phenotypic innovation and diversification. Developmental processes associated with reproduction are particularly likely to involve novel genes. Abundant gene creation impacts the evolution of chromosomal gene content and general regulatory mechanisms such as dosage compensation. Numerous studies in model organisms have found complex and, at times contradictory, relationships among these genomic attributes highlighting the need to examine these patterns in other systems characterized by abundant sexual selection. Therefore, we examined the association among novel gene creation, tissue-specific gene expression, and chromosomal gene content within stalk-eyed flies. Flies in this family are characterized by strong sexual selection and the presence of a newly evolved X chromosome. We generated RNA-seq transcriptome data from the testes for three species within the family and from seven additional tissues in the highly dimorphic species, Teleopsis dalmanni. Analysis of dipteran gene orthology reveals dramatic testes-specific gene creation in stalk-eyed flies, involving numerous gene families that are highly conserved in other insect groups. Identification of X-linked genes for the three species indicates that the X chromosome arose prior to the diversification of the family. The most striking feature of this X chromosome is that it is highly masculinized, containing nearly twice as many testes-specific genes as expected based on its size. All the major processes that may drive differential sex chromosome gene content—creation of genes with male-specific expression, development of male-specific expression from pre-existing genes, and movement of genes with male-specific expression—are elevated on the X chromosome of T. dalmanni. This masculinization occurs despite evidence that testes expressed genes do not achieve the same levels of gene expression on the X chromosome as they do on the autosomes. © The Author 2016.
Baker R.H., Narechania A., DeSalle R., Johns P.M., Reinhardt J.A., Wilkinson G.S. (2016) Spermatogenesis drives rapid gene creation and masculinization of the X chromosome in stalk-eyed flies (Diopsidae). Genome Biology and Evolution 8: 896-914. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evw043