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Genome. 2009 Jan;52(1):49-56. doi: 10.1139/G08-102.

An X chromosome effect responsible for asymmetric reproductive isolation between male Drosophila virilis and heterospecific females.

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Department of Biology, University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3B2E9, Canada.


Reproductive isolation between closely related species is expressed through uncoordinated courtship, failed fertilization, and (or) postzygotic barriers. Behavioural components of mating often form an initial barrier to hybridization between species. In many animals, females are responsible for mating discrimination in both intra- and interspecific crosses; males of Drosophila virilis group represent an exception to this trend. Using overall productivity tests, we show that a lower proportion of D. virilis males sire progeny when paired with a heterospecific female (Drosophila novamexicana or Drosophila americana texana) for 2 weeks. This suggests male mate discrimination or some other kind of asymmetrical incompatibility in courtship and mating or early zygote mortality. We used males from D. virilis-D. novamexicana and from D. virilis-D. a. texana backcross populations to map chromosome effects responsible for male reproductive isolation. Results from the analysis of both backcross male populations indicate a major X chromosome effect. Further, we conduct a male behavioural analysis to show that D. virilis males significantly fail to continue courtship after the first step of courtship, when they tap heterospecific females. The combined results of a major X chromosome effect and the observation that D. virilis males walk away from females after tapping suggest that future studies should concentrate on the identification of X-linked genes affecting the ability of males to recognize conspecific females.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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