Genetic rescue of inviable hybrids between Drosophila melanogaster and its sibling species

Nature. 1987 May 28-Jun 3;327(6120):331-3. doi: 10.1038/327331a0.


Post-mating mechanisms are central to the establishment of reproductive isolation between different, but closely related, species. Post-mating isolation mechanisms include hybrid breakdown, hybrid sterility and hybrid lethality and may, in some cases, be reinforced by pre-mating mechanisms such as ethological differentiation. In the Drosophila melanogaster species sub-group post-mating reproductive isolation is ensured by both the inviability and the sterility of hybrids. For example when D. melanogaster females are crossed to D. simulans males the hybrid progeny are normally all female; the hybrid males die as third instar larvae. The viable hybrid females are totally sterile. Little is known of the genetic basis for either hybrid sterility or hybrid inviability, although Coyne and others have begun a genetic analysis of the sterility of hybrids within this species sub-group. We have discovered a single gene difference that rescues the otherwise inviable male hybrids from the cross between D. melanogaster females and males of its three closest relatives. The study of this locus may shed light on the genetic control of both speciation and development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila / physiology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology
  • Female
  • Genes, Lethal
  • Hybridization, Genetic*
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Reproduction