Evolutionary genomics of Diptera Y chromosomes


  • Dr A Bernardo Carvalho

    Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

Project summary

In many species including humans, mosquitoes and flies, the sex of an individual is determined by specialised sex chromosomes: females carry two copies of the X chromosome, whereas males carry one copy of the X and one copy of the Y chromosome. Usually the X resembles the other chromosomes in size and gene content, but Y chromosomes have very few genes. These Y genes have important functions: some direct the embryo to develop as a male, whereas others are essential for male fertility. Y chromosomes also contain a very large amount of repetitive DNA. The function (if any) of this repetitive DNA is unclear, but it creates many difficulties for the study of Y chromosomes, to the point that they remain uncharacterised in most species.

We have developed methods and computer programs to study Y chromosomes in drosophila and we will apply these methods to study Y chromosomes from mosquitoes which transmit human diseases such as malaria, dengue, Zika, chikungunya and leishmaniosis. We will also study the repetitive regions of the human genome that cause genetic diseases.

The results could help with the control of mosquito-borne disease and improve understanding of genetic diseases.