Nonrandom partition of mitochondria in heteroplasmic Drosophila

Heredity (Edinb). 1997 Dec;79 ( Pt 6):615-23. doi: 10.1038/hdy.1997.207.


In order to understand the status of heteroplasmy and its evolution within the Drosophila melanogaster subgroup, cytoplasm microinjections between eggs were performed involving three lineages of Drosophila simulans, carrying the siI, siII or siIII mtDNA type, respectively, and two strains of Drosophila mauritiana carrying the maI or maII mtDNA type. Progeny of eggs from all combinations of injection were analysed. The maII or siI molecules, when provided by the donor, were never detected in the offspring of the hosts, whatever the host's mitochondrial type. Heteroplasmic flies were detected when siII, siIII or maI mitochondria were injected into any of the other cytoplasms. In the majority of cases the percentage of foreign mtDNA increased over generations, leading to a complete replacement of the endogenous mtDNA. In most cases, siII was prevalent. The stochastic processes involved in the evolution of heteroplasmic states are strongly affected by selective values of the different mtDNA types, with a clear hierarchy among them: siII has the most advantage, then siIII and maI, and finally siI and maII. In the siII/maII heteroplasmy case, the loss of maII was more rapid at a high temperature.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Female
  • Microinjections
  • Mitochondria / genetics*
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Temperature


  • DNA, Mitochondrial