Male pheromone polymorphism and reproductive isolation in populations of Drosophila simulans

Ecol Evol. 2012 Oct;2(10):2527-36. doi: 10.1002/ece3.342. Epub 2012 Sep 8.


The dominant cuticular hydrocarbons (HC) in Drosophila simulans are 7-tricosene (7-T) and 7-pentacosene (7-P). The 7-T is the major HC in East Africa and in other continents. In West Africa, D. simulans is very rare and displays 7-P as the major compound. We studied three D. simulans strains from Egypt (Eg), Sao-Tome (ST), and Cameroon (Cam), with 7-T, intermediary or 7-P phenotypes. HC profiles of ST and Cam female differed slightly from corresponding male profiles; females had more 7-T and less 7-P. Varying temperature affected all HCs (even those with 27 and 29 carbons)-not just 7-T and 7-P; there was no clear relationship between HC phenotype and resistance to desiccation. We report reproductive isolation between Eg and ST and Eg and Cam (but not between ST and Cam), which is due to Eg and Cam female preferences for their own males. In conclusion, our findings do support divergence of D. simulans populations from West Africa for both pheromonal profile and mating preference.

Keywords: Desiccation resistance; hydrocarbons; reproductive isolation; temperature.