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Genetica. 2006 Jan;126(1-2):57-75.

Cactophilic Drosophila in South America: a model for evolutionary studies.

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Departamento de Biologia FFCLRP-USP, Av.dos Bandeirantes, 3900, Ribeirão Preto, SP, 14040-901, Brazil.


The Drosophila buzzatii cluster is composed of seven cactophilic species and their known geographical distribution encompasses the open vegetation diagonal, which includes the morphoclimatic Domains of the Caatinga, Chaco and Cerrado, which are situated between the Amazon and the Atlantic forests. Besides these areas, these cactophilic species are also found in a narrow strip along the Atlantic coast from northeastern Brazil to the southern tip of the country. The hypothesis of vicariant events, defining the core areas of each species, is proposed to explain the historical diversification for the cluster. The intraspecific analysis for the cluster shows a population structure with gene flow restricted by distance, range expansion with secondary contact resulting in introgression and simpatry, especially in the limits of the species distribution, polytypic populations and assortative mating in inter population experiments. There is a variation related to these events that depends on the species and geographic origin of the population analyzed. These events are, hypothetically, described as the results of expansion and retraction of the population ranges, as a consequence of their association with cacti, which theoretically follow the expansion and retraction of dry areas during the paleoclimatic oscillations in South America, as that promoted by the glacial cycles of the Quaternary. The Drosophila buzzatii cluster is divided into two groups. The first one is composed of D. buzzatii, a species that has a broad geographic distribution and no significant differentiation between its populations. The second is the Drosophila serido sibling set, which encompasses the others species and is characterized by a significant potential for differentiation.

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