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Genetics. Jul 2002; 161(3): 1137–1154.
PMCID: PMC1462194

Chromosomal elements evolve at different rates in the Drosophila genome.


Recent results indicate that the rate of chromosomal rearrangement in the genus Drosophila is the highest found so far in any eukaryote. This conclusion is based chiefly on the comparative mapping analysis of a single chromosomal element (Muller's element E) in two species, D. melanogaster and D. repleta, representing the two farthest lineages within the genus (the Sophophora and Drosophila subgenera, respectively). We have extended the analysis to two other chromosomal elements (Muller's elements A and D) and tested for differences in rate of evolution among chromosomes. With this purpose, detailed physical maps of chromosomes X and 4 of D. repleta were constructed by in situ hybridization of 145 DNA probes (gene clones, cosmids, and P1 phages) and their gene arrangements compared with those of the homologous chromosomes X and 3L of D. melanogaster. Both chromosomal elements have been extensively reshuffled over their entire length. The number of paracentric inversions fixed has been estimated as 118 +/- 17 for element A and 56 +/- 8 for element D. Comparison with previous data for elements E and B shows that there are fourfold differences in evolution rate among chromosomal elements, with chromosome X exhibiting the highest rate of rearrangement. Combining all results, we estimated that 393 paracentric inversions have been fixed in the whole genome since the divergence between D. repleta and D. melanogaster. This amounts to an average rate of 0.053 disruptions/Mb/myr, corroborating the high rate of rearrangement in the genus Drosophila.

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