The genetic architecture of insect courtship behavior and premating isolation

Heredity (Edinb). 2009 Jul;103(1):15-22. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2009.22. Epub 2009 Mar 4.


The genetic architecture underlying reproductively isolating traits may have substantial impacts on the likelihood and pace of speciation. Recent studies of a key premating barrier, courtship, provide sufficient data to assess the degree to which behaviorally isolating traits are controlled by many or few loci, and help to investigate whether the same loci underlie both intraspecific and interspecific behavioral differences. Of the behavioral courtship traits examined, 69% (25 of 36) were found to be mediated by few loci of relatively large effect. This apparent prevalence of major loci suggests that changes in courtship behavior may often evolve quickly, which in turn may drive rapid speciation through premating isolation. Although both intraspecific and interspecific courtship differences are commonly controlled by major loci, intraspecific and interspecific differences usually involve different loci or traits. This finding provides evidence that different sets of processes and genetic changes characterize microevolutionary change in courtship-related traits, in contrast to change during speciation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Courtship
  • Female
  • Insecta / genetics*
  • Insecta / physiology
  • Male
  • Reproduction
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal*