Evolution of the tan locus contributed to pigment loss in Drosophila santomea: a response to Matute et al

Cell. 2009 Dec 11;139(6):1189-96. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2009.11.004.


We have shown previously that the loss of abdominal pigmentation in D. santomea relative to its sister species D. yakuba resulted, in part, from cis-regulatory mutations at the tan locus. Matute et al. claim, based solely upon extrapolation from genetic crosses of D. santomea and D. melanogaster, a much more divergent species, that at least four X chromosome regions but not tan are responsible for pigmentation differences. Here, we provide additional evidence from introgressions of D. yakuba genes into D. santomea that support a causative role for tan in the loss of pigmentation and present analyses that contradict Matute et al.'s claims. We discuss how the choice of parental species and other factors affect the ability to identify loci responsible for species divergence, and we affirm that all of our previously reported results and conclusions stand.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chimera
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Pigmentation / genetics*
  • Species Specificity
  • X Chromosome


  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • t protein, Drosophila