DNA methylation changes induced by long and short photoperiods in Nasonia

Mirko Pegoraro, Akanksha Bafna, Nathaniel J. Davies, David M. Shuker, Eran Tauber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many organisms monitor the annual change in day length and use this information for the timing of their seasonal response. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying photoperiodic timing are largely unknown. The wasp Nasonia vitripennis is an emerging model organism that exhibits a strong photoperiodic response: Short autumnal days experienced by females lead to the induction of developmental arrest (diapause) in their progeny, allowing winter survival of the larvae. How female Nasonia control the developmental trajectory of their offspring is unclear. Here, we took advantage of the recent discovery that DNA methylation is pervasive in Nasonia and tested its role in photoperiodism. We used reduced representation bisulfite sequencing (RRBS) to profile DNA methylation in adult female wasps subjected to different photoperiods and identified substantial differential methylation at the single base level. We also show that knocking down DNA methyltransferase 1a (Dnmt1a), Dnmt3, or blocking DNA methylation pharmacologically, largely disrupts the photoperiodic diapause response of the wasps. To our knowledge, this is the first example for a role of DNA methylation in insect photoperiodic timing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-210
Number of pages8
JournalGenome Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions to improve the quality of the paper. We thank Louiza Potamiti, James Newton, and Leanne Kilsby for the help with the pilot experiments. We thank Rita Newman for her valuable advice, and Richard Meehan and John Thomson from the MRC Human Genetics Unit for their guidance on the 5hmC assays. This study was partly supported by a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) award to E.T. (BB/ K001922/1), N.J.D. (BB/J014532/1), and the University of Leicester Open Scholarship to A.B., and also by the Natural Environment Research Council (NE/J024481/1).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Pegoraro et al.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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