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Genetics. 1997 Apr;145(4):1015-30.

Genetics of a pheromonal difference affecting sexual isolation between Drosophila mauritiana and D. sechellia.

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


Females of the sibling species Drosophila sechellia and D. mauritiana differ in their cuticular hydrocarbons: the predominant compound in D. sechellia is 7,11-heptacosadiene (7,11-HD), while that in D. mauritiana is 7-tricosene (7-T). We investigate the genetic basis of this difference and its involvement in reproductive isolation between the species. Behavioral studies involving hydrocarbon transfer suggest that these compounds play a large role in the sexual isolation between D. mauritiana males and D. sechellia females, while sexual isolation in the reciprocal hybridization results more from differences in female behavior than hydrocarbons. This interspecific difference in hydrocarbon profile is due to evolutionary change at a minimum of six loci, all on the third chromosome. The localization of evolutionary change to the third chromosome has been seen in very other genetic analysis of female hydrocarbon differences in the D. melanogaster group. We suggest that the high 7,11-HD phenotype seen in two species evolved twice independently from ancestors having the high 7-T phenotype and the recurrent third-chromosome effects are evolutionary convergences that may be due to a concentration of "hydrocarbon genes" on that chromosome.

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