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Genetica. 1990;83(1):31-44.

Postmating reproductive isolation and modification of the 'sex ratio' trait in Drosophila subobscura induced by the sex chromosome gene arrangement A2+3+5+7.

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Zoologisches Institut, Universität Zürich, Switzerland.


Drosophila subobscura males were trapped in Tunis, and mated to different lab strains. The offspring from 15% of these wild Tunisian males consisted of more than 90% females. Chromosome analysis showed that these males had carried the A2+3+5+7 which was described as 'sex ratio' chromosome, endemic in North Africa and the Canary Islands. The mean female frequency in the total offspring of all trapped males was 61%. This percentage was stable for more than ten years. F1 females from the mating of wild Tunisian males to Küsnacht standard females were backcrossed to Küsnacht standard males. In the offspring of this back cross, A2+3+5+7-males were sterile. The fertility of A2+3+5+7-males could be restored in two ways: 1) When the Küsnacht standard autosomes were replaced by Tunisian autosomes, most of the A2+3+5+7-males were again fertile. The A2+3+5+7-chromosome seems to be incompatible with autosomes from a geographically distant region. 2) After exchanging autosomes between lines, in which A2+3+5+7-males were 100% sterile, fertility could be restored in 30% of the A2+3+5+7-males. All males carrying one specific A2+3+5+7 stayed sterile as well in combination with autosomes from different lines as with Tunisian autosomes. The Y-chromosome and the cytoplasm was the same in sterile and in fertile A2+3+5+7-males. Therefore the origin of the Y-chromosome and the cytoplasm could not play a major role in sterility. The percentage of fertile males varied for different Y-chromosomes. Thus the Y-chromosomes may have some influence on fertility in this study. The restored fertility of A2+3+5+7-males can be explained assuming complementation. Defects of autosomes, and perhaps of the Y-chromosomes, could differ from line to line. Genomic changes may have happened when the A2+3+5+7 was in the genome together with autosomes and Y-chromosomes from Swiss populations. The A-chromosome which prevented fertility in all combinations, is thought to be itself defective. In one cross the 'sex ratio' trait was modified. In the offspring of some males the male to female ratio was 1:1. The variable sex ratio in the offspring from different males may have been an effect of the autosomes. In short, the intraspecific hybrid sterility and modification of the 'sex ratio' trait in D. subobscura indicate that: a) an incompatibility possibly existed between the gene arrangement A2+3+5+7 from one population and autosomes respectively Y-chromosomes from a population isolated from the former. b) In addition unidentified genomic changes occurred, c) induced by the A2+3+5+7-chromosome. d) The sex chromosomes A and Y, and the autosomes were involved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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