Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
W.M. Keck Science Department
© 2014 Emily A. Muller
Hymenopteran insects, which include all ants, bees and wasps, reproduce through a poorly understood form of reproduction known as haplodiploidy. A promising experimental system for understanding this developmental process is the jewel wasp, Nasonia vitripennis. A critical aspect of using Nasonia as a model is establishing an effective means for editing specific genes of interest so that their functions can be studied through genetic means. For my thesis research, I performed a pilot study of the gene editing method known as CRISPR in Nasonia. I targeted the single heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) gene present in the Nasonia genome in order to assess the feasibility of this gene editing approach. Targeting HP1 would provide a clear phenotype when this gene is mutated due to its essential functions in early development known from studies in other eukaryotes. Additionally, creating a mutant of this gene will provide a means for studying the role of HP1 in wasp spermatogenesis, an aim that interlinks with the broader chromatin-based goals of our laboratory. Through this study I worked out a streamlined procedure for injecting CRISPR molecules into young wasp embryos, conducting genetic crosses with injected wasps, and screening through their progeny for potential mutants. I observed no mutant phenotypes in injected wasps, but instead, I isolated four potential mutants in F1 progeny. My work has helped to create a solid framework for improving this procedure in Nasonia, and they allow for a better overall understanding of the limitations of producing mutants through CRISPR gene editing in non-model organisms such as Nasonia.
Muller, Emily A., "Developing a Gene Editing System to Study Haplodiploidy in the Jewel Wasp, Nasonia Vitripennis" (2015). Scripps Senior Theses. 576.