The genetics of reproductive isolation and the potential for gene exchange between Drosophila pseudoobscura and D. persimilis via backcross hybrid males

Evolution. 2001 Mar;55(3):512-21. doi: 10.1554/0014-3820(2001)055[0512:tgoria];2.


Hybrid male sterility, hybrid inviability, sexual isolation, and a hybrid male courtship dysfunction reproductively isolate Drosophila pseudoobscura and D. persimilis. Previous studies of the genetic bases of these isolating mechanisms have yielded only limited information about how much and what areas of the genome are susceptible to interspecies introgression. We have examined the genetic basis of these barriers to gene exchange in several thousand backcross hybrid male progeny of these species using 14 codominant molecular genetic markers spanning the five chromosomes of these species, focusing particularly on the autosomes. Hybrid male sterility, hybrid inviability, and the hybrid male courtship dysfunction were all associated with X-autosome interactions involving primarily the inverted regions on the left arm of the X-chromosome and the center of the second chromosome. Sexual isolation from D. pseudoobscura females was primarily associated with the left arm of the X-chromosome, although both the right arm and the center of the second chromosome also contributed to it. Sexual isolation from D. persimilis females was primarily associated with the second chromosome. The absence of isolating mechanisms being associated with many autosomal regions, including some large inverted regions that separate the strains, suggests that these phenotypes may not be caused by genes spread throughout the genome. We suggest that gene flow between these species via hybrid males may be possible at loci spread across much of the autosomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Copulation
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Female
  • Inbreeding*
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Repeats / genetics
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Quantitative Trait, Heritable
  • Species Specificity