Sexual dimorphism in mandible size in Gnathocerus cornutus

This project is a close collaboration with Yasukazu Okada (University of Tokyo, Japan) and Jeff Demuth (University of Texas at Arlington, USA) 


Sexual size dimorphisms are a common feature in living organisms. The broad horned flour beetle (Gnathocerus cornutus) exhibits a pronounced sexual size dimorphism of the mandibles. It has been shown that enlarged mandibles in males are used in regular fights among males. While this behaviour is well-studied, the developmental basis of exaggerated mandible growth in males is not understood to date. 


We will apply comparative transcriptomics in combination with a comprehensive developmental characterization of mandible growth to identify key candidate genes involved in this process. Subsequently, candidate genes will be functionally tested via gene knock-down using RNA interference (RNAi).