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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Jun 5;98(12):6709-13.

Incipient speciation by sexual isolation in Drosophila: concurrent evolution at multiple loci.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Drosophila melanogaster from Zimbabwe and nearby regions shows strong but asymmetric sexual isolation from its cosmopolitan counterparts. By creating stable chromosome-substitution lines, earlier studies were able to show that the two major autosomes have very large effects on both male mating success and female mating preference. In this study, we genetically dissect this sexual isolation by recombination analysis between a whole-chromosome substitution line (which carries a Zimbabwe-derived third chromosome) and a strain with seven visible markers on that chromosome. Four loci are responsible for male mating success and three others are found to control female mating preference. Because male and female traits are not closely linked, their strong association among isofemale lines is most likely a reflection of sexual selection in nature. The results suggest that a large number of behavioral loci may evolve concurrently in the incipient stage of speciation before other aspects of reproductive isolation (such as hybrid sterility) have become evident. The results shed light on the population genetic processes underlying the formation of nascent species, as well as modes of speciation.

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