Entomology research at K-State looks into the fertilization of crickets

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Jeremy Marshall, associate professor of entomology, is working on research in the fields of evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology and evolutionary genomics that particularly examines a certain family of crickets to determine the evolution of a fertilization disorder.

“I studied speciation questions when I was working on my masters of Ph.D,” Marshall said. “I worked in a lab which they were [working] on the crickets research, and we were studying for how new species formed so quickly.”

His research during his graduate school days is what led him to his current research, Marshall said.

Marshall and his team were trying to identify what the Allonemobius socius genetic forms are, beginning with an experiment. The only problem? They didn’t have the proper research tools.

Marshall said they had to build their own database, collecting different types of crickets from various states across the nation and mating them to record results based on the offspring created from the union. This foundational stage for their work took almost a decade.

“The main thing that we needed to find is that there was a protein that males passed to females when they mate, and it induces the female to lay eggs.” Marshall said.

He said among these closely related species, that particular protein is actually transmitted very quickly.

The most interesting finding Marshall said he found during this research is that group of genes the male is passing to the female are actually something insects do across the board. As it turns out, Marshall said, it is a very general phenomenon of evolution in a species.

The research, at this point, is more or less completed, leaving only some of the data left to be sorted and calculated, Marshall said.

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