Multiple genes cause postmating prezygotic reproductive isolation in the Drosophila virilis group

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14 Scopus citations


Understanding the genetic basis of speciation is a central problem in evolutionary biology. Studies of reproductive isolation have provided several insights into the genetic causes of speciation, especially in taxa that lend themselves to detailed genetic scrutiny. Reproductive barriers have usually been divided into those that occur before zygote formation (prezygotic) and after (postzygotic), with the latter receiving a great deal of attention over several decades. Reproductive barriers that occur after mating but before zygote formation [postmating prezygotic (PMPZ)] are especially understudied at the genetic level. Here, I present a phenotypic and genetic analysis of a PMPZ reproductive barrier between two species of the Drosophila virilis group: D. americana and D. virilis. This species pair shows strong PMPZ isolation, especially when D. americana males mate with D. virilis females: ~99% of eggs laid after these heterospecific copulations are not fertilized. Previous work has shown that the paternal loci contributing to this incompatibility reside on two chromosomes, one of which (chromosome 5) likely carries multiple factors. The other (chromosome 2) is fixed for a paracentric inversion that encompasses nearly half the chromosome. Here, I present two results. First, I show that PMPZ in this species cross is largely due to defective sperm storage in heterospecific copulations. Second, using advanced intercross and backcross mapping approaches, I identify genomic regions that carry genes capable of rescuing heterospecific fertilization. I conclude that paternal incompatibility between D. americana males and D. virilis females is underlain by four or more genes on chromosomes 2 and 5.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4067-4076
Number of pages10
JournalG3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Drosophila
  • Gametic incompatibility
  • Genetics of speciation
  • Reproductive isolation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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