Genetics and Lineage-Specific Evolution of a Lethal Hybrid Incompatibility Between Drosophila mauritiana and Its Sibling Species
M. Victoria Cattani, Daven C. Presgraves


The Dobzhansky–Muller model posits that intrinsic postzygotic reproductive isolation—the sterility or lethality of species hybrids—results from the evolution of incompatible epistatic interactions between species: favorable or neutral alleles that become fixed in the genetic background of one species can cause sterility or lethality in the genetic background of another species. The kind of hybrid incompatibility that evolves between two species, however, depends on the particular evolutionary history of the causative substitutions. An allele that is functionally derived in one species can be incompatible with an allele that is functionally derived in the other species (a derived-derived hybrid incompatibility). But an allele that is functionally derived in one species can also be incompatible with an allele that has retained the ancestral state in the other species (a derived-ancestral hybrid incompatibility). The relative abundance of such derived-derived vs. derived-ancestral hybrid incompatibilities is unknown. Here, we characterize the genetics and evolutionary history of a lethal hybrid incompatibility between Drosophila mauritiana and its two sibling species, D. sechellia and D. simulans. We show that a hybrid lethality factor(s) in the pericentric heterochromatin of the D. mauritiana X chromosome, hybrid lethal on the X (hlx), is incompatible with a factor(s) in the same small autosomal region from both D. sechellia and D. simulans, Suppressor of hlx [Su(hlx)]. By combining genetic and phylogenetic information, we infer that hlx-Su(hlx) hybrid lethality is likely caused by a derived-ancestral incompatibility, a hypothesis that can be tested directly when the genes are identified.


  • Communicating editor: M. Long

  • Received November 5, 2008.
  • Accepted January 27, 2009.
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