Levels of mate recognition within and between two Drosophila species and their hybrids

Am Nat. 1998 Dec;152(6):826-37. doi: 10.1086/286211.


If sexual selection is to result in speciation, traits involved in mate choice within species need to be capable of producing sexual isolation between species. We investigated the association between mate choice and sexual isolation using interspecific hybrids between two sibling species, Drosophila serrata and Drosophila birchii. A perfuming experiment demonstrated that olfaction was involved in the sexual isolation between the two species. A quantitative genetic analysis using 30 populations of hybrids between the two species indicated that mating success in hybrid individuals was predominately determined by cuticular hydrocarbons; the average genetic correlation between mating success and cuticular hydrocarbon profile was 0.84, and in some instances exceeded 0.95. Multivariate analysis of the cuticular hydrocarbons of the two species revealed that there were three independent blends of cuticular hydrocarbons that separated three levels of organization: species, sex, and sex within species. The hydrocarbons used by hybrids in mate choice included those that separated the two species, demonstrating that species-specific characters may be used in mate choice within populations. The interspecific reciprocal cross had major effect on which cuticular hydrocarbons were associated with mating success, indicating that the expression of the cuticular hydrocarbons was strongly sex linked.