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Genetics. 1974 Jun;77(2):343-84.

Genetic variation in natural populations of five Drosophila species and the hypothesis of the selective neutrality of protein polymorphisms.


We have studied genetic variation at 30-32 loci coding for enzymes in natural populations of five species of Drosophila. The average proportion of heterozygous loci per individual is 17.7 +/- 0.4%. The average proportion of polymorphic loci per population is 69.2 +/- 2.6% or 49.8 +/- 2.2%, depending on what criterion of polymorphism is used. The following generalizations are advanced: (1) The amount of genetic polymorphism varies considerably from locus to locus. (2) At a given locus, populations of the same species are very similar in the amount and pattern of genetic variation. (3) However, at some loci large differences sometimes occur between local populations of the same species. (4) The amount of variation at a given locus is approximately the same in all five species. (5) When different species are compared, the pattern of the variation is either essentially identical or totally different at a majority of loci. We have tested the hypothesis that protein polymorphisms are selectively neutral by examining four predictions derived from the hypothesis. Our results are at variance with every one of the predictions. We have measured the amount of genetic differentiation, D, between taxa of various degrees of evolutionary divergence. The average value of D is 0.033 for local populations, 0.228 for subspecies, 0.226 for semispecies, 0.538 for sibling species, and 1.214 for morphologically distinguishable species. Our results indicate that a substantial degree of genetic differentiation (22.8 allelic substitutions for every 100 loci) occurs between allopatric populations that have diverged to the point where they might become different species if they were to become sympatric. However, very little additional genetic change is required for the development of complete reproductive isolation. After the speciation process is completed, species continue to diverge genetically from each other.

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