A genomic comparison of faster-sex, faster-X, and faster-male evolution between Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila pseudoobscura

J Mol Evol. 2006 Jun;62(6):693-700. doi: 10.1007/s00239-005-0165-5. Epub 2006 Apr 11.


A genomic comparison of Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila pseudoobscura provides a unique opportunity to investigate factors involved in sequence divergence. The chromosomal arrangements of these species include an autosomal segment in D. melanogaster which is homologous to part of the X chromosome in D. pseudoobscura. Using orthologues to calculate rates of nonsynonymous (d(N)) substitutions, we found genes on the X chromosome to be significantly more diverged than those on the autosomes, but it is not true for segment 3L-XR which is autosomal in D. melanogaster (3L) and X-linked in D. pseudoobscura (XR). We also found that the median d(N) values for genes having reproductive functions in either the male, the female, or both sexes are higher than those for sequences without reproductive function and even higher for sequences involved in male-specific function. These estimates of divergence for male sex-related sequences are most likely underestimates, as the very rapidly evolving reproductive genes would tend to lose homology sooner and thus not be included in the comparison of orthologues. We also noticed a high proportion of male reproductive genes among the othologous genes with the highest rates of d(N). Reproductive genes with and without an orthologue in D. pseudoobscura were compared among D. melanogaster, D. simulans, and D. yakuba and it was found that there were in fact higher rates of divergence in the group without a D. pseudoobscura orthologue. These results, from widely separated taxa, bolster the thesis that sexual system genes experience accelerated rates of change in comparison to nonsexual genes in evolution and speciation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Female
  • Genes, X-Linked / genetics*
  • Genome*
  • Male
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Reproduction / genetics
  • Sex Differentiation / genetics
  • Time Factors