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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Jun 5;98(12):6714-9.

A locus for female discrimination behavior causing sexual isolation in Drosophila.

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  • 1Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8572, Japan.


The genetic basis of sexual isolation that contributes to speciation is one of the unsolved questions in evolutionary biology. Drosophila ananassae and Drosophila pallidosa are closely related, and postmating isolation has not developed between them. However, females of both species discriminate their mating partners, and this discrimination contributes to strong sexual isolation between them. By using surgical treatments, we demonstrate that male courtship songs play a dominant role in female mate discrimination. The absence of the song of D. pallidosa dramatically increased interspecies mating with D. ananassae females but reduced intraspecies mating with D. pallidosa females. Furthermore, genetic analysis and chromosomal introgression by repeated backcrosses to D. pallidosa males identified possible loci that control female discrimination in each species. These loci were mapped on distinct positions near the Delta locus on the middle of the left arm of the second chromosome. Because the mate discrimination we studied is well developed and is the only known mechanism that prevents gene flow between them, these loci may have played crucial roles in the evolution of reproductive isolation, and therefore, in the speciation process between these two species.

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