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Arch Virol. 1993;129(1-4):131-43.

Evolution of the Drosophila melanogaster-sigma virus system in natural populations from Languedoc (southern France).

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Laboratoire de Génétique, Université de Clermont Ferrand, Aubiére, France.


An analysis of natural populations of Drosophila melanogaster in a southern French region (Languedoc) was started in 1983, concerning two non Mendelian systems: the P-M system of transposable elements and the sigma virus. This virus is not contagious, but only transmitted through gametes; it is usually present in a minority of individuals in natural populations. The first data collected revealed unexpectedly clear and fast-evolving phenomena; they also gave evidence of some interesting correlations between the two systems. This paper presents all the results gathered from 1983 to 1991 in the Drosophila-sigma system. Striking correlations were observed for three interconnected parameters: frequency of infected flies, frequency of an allele of the fly giving resistance to the virus, and adaptation of the virus to this allele. This adaptation consisted of a qualitative step (change of viral type) followed by quantitative variation (better adaptation to the allele). This analysis also showed, firstly, that the evolution of natural populations differs completely in Languedoc from the rest of France; secondly, that three geographical zones where selective forces worked differently persisted over time in Languedoc.

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