Evolution of multiple additive loci caused divergence between Drosophila yakuba and D. santomea in wing rowing during male courtship

PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e43888. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043888. Epub 2012 Aug 30.


In Drosophila, male flies perform innate, stereotyped courtship behavior. This innate behavior evolves rapidly between fly species, and is likely to have contributed to reproductive isolation and species divergence. We currently understand little about the neurobiological and genetic mechanisms that contributed to the evolution of courtship behavior. Here we describe a novel behavioral difference between the two closely related species D. yakuba and D. santomea: the frequency of wing rowing during courtship. During courtship, D. santomea males repeatedly rotate their wing blades to face forward and then back (rowing), while D. yakuba males rarely row their wings. We found little intraspecific variation in the frequency of wing rowing for both species. We exploited multiplexed shotgun genotyping (MSG) to genotype two backcross populations with a single lane of Illumina sequencing. We performed quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping using the ancestry information estimated by MSG and found that the species difference in wing rowing mapped to four or five genetically separable regions. We found no evidence that these loci display epistasis. The identified loci all act in the same direction and can account for most of the species difference.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Courtship*
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Female
  • Genetic Markers / genetics
  • Genotyping Techniques
  • Hybridization, Genetic
  • Male
  • Movement*
  • Quantitative Trait Loci / genetics*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal
  • Species Specificity
  • Wings, Animal / physiology*


  • Genetic Markers

Grant support

This work was supported by a Human Frontiers Long Term Fellowship (LT000708/2010-L), a EURYI award, a Human Frontier Science Program Career and Development Award, an ANR grant, and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.