Ross, L., Pen, I., & Shuker, D.M. 2010 Genomic conflict in scale insects: the causes and consequences of bizarre genetic systems.. Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society

Notes: It is now clear that mechanisms of sex determination are extraordinarily labile, with considerable variation across all taxonomic levels. This variation is often expressed through differences in the genetic system (XX-XY, XX-XO, haplodiploidy, and so on). Why there is so much variation in such a seemingly fundamental process has attracted much attention, with recent ideas concentrating on the possible role of genomic conflicts of interest. Here we consider the role of inter- and intra-genomic conflicts in one large insect taxon: the scale insects. Scale insects exhibit a dizzying array of genetic systems, and their biology promotes conflicts of interest over transmission and sex ratio between male- and female-expressed genes, parental- and offspring-expressed genes (both examples of intra-genomic conflict) and between scale insects and their endosymbionts (inter-genomic conflict). We first review the wide range of genetic systems found in scale insects and the possible evolutionary transitions between them. We then outline the theoretical opportunities for genomic conflicts in this group and how these might influence sex determination and sex ratio. We then consider the evidence for these conflicts in the evolution of sex determination in scale insects. Importantly, the evolution of novel genetic systems in scale insects has itself helped create new conflicts of interest, for instance over sex ratio. As a result, a major obstacle to our understanding of the role of conflict in the evolution of sex-determination and genetic systems will be the difficulty in identifying the direction of causal relationships. We conclude by outlining possible experimental and comparative approaches to test more effectively how important genomic conflicts have been.