Temporal mating isolation driven by a behavioral gene in Drosophila

Curr Biol. 2003 Jan 21;13(2):140-5. doi: 10.1016/s0960-9822(03)00004-6.


Speciation is the evolutionary process in which new barriers to gene exchange are created. These barriers may be physical, leading to spatial separation of subpopulations and resulting in allopatric speciation, or they may be temporal, giving rise to allochronic speciation, and may include the time of day or the time of year when mating takes place. Drosophila melanogaster and D. pseudoobscura show different temporal patterns of circadian locomotor activity that are determined by the circadian clock gene period (per). Genes that control aspects of behavior that might be relevant to courtship and mating, such as locomotor patterns, become obvious candidates for involvement in the speciation process. However, evidence for the role of individual genes in the mechanism of mate choice has proved elusive. We have used transgenic flies carrying the natural per genes from these two Drosophila species to reveal that per has the potential to provide the permissive conditions for speciation, by affecting mate choice through a mechanism involving the species-specific timing of mating behavior.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Biological Evolution
  • Circadian Rhythm / genetics
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology
  • Female
  • Genes, Insect*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / genetics
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics*
  • Nuclear Proteins / physiology*
  • Period Circadian Proteins
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal* / physiology
  • Species Specificity


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • PER protein, Drosophila
  • Period Circadian Proteins