Patterns of Genome-Wide Diversity and Population Structure in the Drosophila athabasca Species Complex

Mol Biol Evol. 2017 Aug 1;34(8):1912-1923. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msx134.


The Drosophila athabasca species complex contains three recently diverged, prezygotically isolated semispecies (Western-Northern, Eastern-A, and Eastern-B) that are distributed across North America and share zones of sympatry. Inferences based on a handful of loci suggest that this complex might be an ideal system for studying the genetics of incipient speciation and the evolution of prezygotic isolating mechanisms, but patterns of differentiation have not been characterized systematically. Here, we assembled a draft genome for D. athabasca and analyze whole-genome re-sequencing data for 28 individuals from across the species range to characterize genome-wide patterns of diversity and population differentiation among semispecies. Patterns of differentiation on the X-chromosome vs. autosomes vary, with the X-chromosome showing better phylogenetic resolution and increased levels of between semispecies divergence. Despite low levels of overall differentiation and a lack of phylogenetic resolution of the autosomes for the most closely related semispecies, individuals do exhibit distinct genetic clustering. Demographic analyses provide some support for a model of isolation with migration within D. athabasca, with divergence times <20 kya. The young divergence times of the semispecies of D. athabasca, together with strong levels of sexual isolation, makes them a promising system for studying the evolution of prezygotic isolation and speciation.

Keywords: Drosophila; population structure; prezygotic isolation; speciation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Genetic Speciation
  • Genetic Variation / genetics
  • Genome
  • Genome, Insect / genetics
  • North America
  • Phylogeny
  • Reproductive Isolation
  • Sympatry / genetics
  • X Chromosome / genetics