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J Evol Biol. 2017 Mar;30(3):524-537. doi: 10.1111/jeb.13021. Epub 2016 Dec 19.

Genetic differentiation and adaptive evolution at reproductive loci in incipient Drosophila species.

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Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY, USA.
Department of Biology, New York University, New York, NY, USA.
Division of Invertebrate Zoology, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY, USA.


Accessory gland proteins (Acps) are part of the seminal fluid of male Drosophila flies. Some Acps have exceptionally high evolutionary rates and evolve under positive selection. Proper interactions between Acps and female reproductive molecules are essential for fertilization. These observations lead to suggestions that fast evolving Acps could be involved in speciation by promoting reproductive incompatibilities between emerging species. To test this hypothesis, we used population genetics data for three sibling species: D. mayaguana, D. parisiena and D. straubae. The latter two species are morphologically very similar and show only incipient reproductive isolation. This system allowed us to examine Acp evolution at different time frames with respect to speciation and reproductive isolation. Comparing data of 14 Acp loci with data obtained for other genomic regions, we found that some Acps show extraordinarily high levels of divergence between D. mayaguana and its two sister species D. parisiena and D. straubae. This divergence was likely driven by adaptive evolution at several loci. No fixed nucleotide differences were found between D. parisiena and D. straubae, however. Nevertheless, some Acp loci did show significant differentiation between these species associated with signs of positive selection; these loci may be involved in this early phase of the speciation process.


Bayesian model selection; Drosophila repleta group; accessory gland proteins; candidate genes; positive selection; reproductive isolation; speciation

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