Intrinsic reproductive isolation between two sister species of Drosophila

Evolution. 2010 Apr 1;64(4):903-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2009.00879.x. Epub 2009 Nov 5.


Drosophila santomea and D. yakuba are sister species that live on the volcanic African island of São Tomé. Previous work has revealed several barriers to gene flow, including sexual isolation, hybrid sterility, and "extrinsic" ecological isolation based on differential adaptation to and preference for temperature. Here, we describe several new "intrinsic" barriers to gene flow-barriers that do not depend on the species' ecology. These include reduced egg number, reduced egg hatchability, and faster depletion of sperm in interspecific compared to intraspecific matings. Further, hatching interval and egg-to-adult development time are significantly longer in interspecific than intraspecific crosses. If a female of either species is initially mated to a heterospecific male, she lays fewer and less-fertile eggs than if she is first mated to a conspecific male, so that heterospecific matings permanently reduce female fertility. Finally, D. santomea females mated to D. yakuba males do not live as long as virgin or conspecifically mated females. The "poisoning" effects of heterospecific ejaculates may be byproducts of antagonistic sexual selection. Although these species diverged relatively recently, they are clearly separated by many isolating barriers that act both before and after mating.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Fertilization
  • Gene Flow
  • Genetic Speciation*
  • Hybridization, Genetic
  • Longevity
  • Male
  • Oviparity*
  • Ovum / physiology
  • Reproduction / physiology
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal