Send to

Choose Destination
PeerJ. 2015 Aug 6;3:e1173. doi: 10.7717/peerj.1173. eCollection 2015.

Choosing mates based on the diet of your ancestors: replication of non-genetic assortative mating in Drosophila melanogaster.

Author information

Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology Department, University of California , Santa Barbara , USA.


Assortative mating has been a focus of considerable research because of its potential to influence biodiversity at many scales. Sharon et al. (2010) discovered that an inbred strain of Drosophila melanogaster mated assortatively based on the diet of previous generations, leading to initial reproductive isolation without genetic evolution. This behavior was reproduced by manipulating the microbiome independently of the diet, pointing to extracellular bacterial symbionts as the assortative mating cue. To further investigate the biological significance of this result, we attempted to reproduce this phenomenon in an independent laboratory using different genotypes and additional mating assays. Supporting the previous result, we found that a different inbred strain also mated assortatively based on the diets of previous generations. However, we were unable to generate assortative mating in an outbred strain from North Carolina. Our results support the potential for non-genetic mechanisms to influence reproductive isolation, but additional work is needed to investigate the importance of this mechanism in natural populations of Drosophila.


Animal behavior; Assortative mating; Drosophila; Evolution; Mate choice; Microbiome; Population biology; Speciation

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for PeerJ, Inc. Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center