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Genetics. Aug 2003; 164(4): 1383–1397.
PMCID: PMC1462656

Genetic dissection of hybrid incompatibilities between Drosophila simulans and D. mauritiana. I. Differential accumulation of hybrid male sterility effects on the X and autosomes.


The genetic basis of hybrid incompatibility in crosses between Drosophila mauritiana and D. simulans was investigated to gain insight into the evolutionary mechanisms of speciation. In this study, segments of the D. mauritiana third chromosome were introgressed into a D. simulans genetic background and tested as homozygotes for viability, male fertility, and female fertility. The entire third chromosome was covered with partially overlapping segments. Many segments were male sterile, while none were female sterile or lethal, confirming previous reports of the rapid evolution of hybrid male sterility (HMS). A statistical model was developed to quantify the HMS accumulation. In comparison with previous work on the X chromosome, we estimate that the X has approximately 2.5 times the density of HMS factors as the autosomes. We also estimate that the whole genome contains approximately 15 HMS "equivalents"-i.e., 15 times the minimum number of incompatibility factors necessary to cause complete sterility. Although some caveats for the quantitative estimate of a 2.5-fold density difference are described, this study supports the notion that the X chromosome plays a special role in the evolution of reproductive isolation. Possible mechanisms of a "large X" effect include selective fixation of new mutations that are recessive or partially recessive and the evolution of sex-ratio distortion systems.

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Selected References

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