Stepwise chromosome evolution in Drosophila albomicans
The nasuta subgroup of Drosophila consists of 12 known species classified within the immigrans group. D. nasuta and D. albomicans are two sibling species widely distributed throughout the Indo-Pacific tropics, which, although morphologically indistinguishable, have different meta-phase-chromosome configurations: chromosomes X and 3 are attached in D. albomicans, so that about 60% of its genes are sex-linked. Our experiments show that, at least in the laboratory, there is no sexual, mechanical, or gametic isolation between the two species. There is, however, hybrid "breakdown" expressed in three ways: 1) reduction in the number of F2 hybrids produced per culture; 2) reduction in the fertility of F2 (males) and F3 (males and females) hybrid progenies; and 3) abnormal sex ratios in the progenies of crosses between strains of certain localities. In experimental populations, the karyotypes of both species are still present in substantial frequencies after 20 generations, although the frequencies of the two karyotypes vary depending on the geographic origin of the strains. Our results support the hypothesis that, in allopatry, the evolution of postzygotic isolation precedes that of prezygotic isolation. The mtDNA is polymorphic in both D. nasuta and D. albomicans and fairly similar between them. Assuming typical rates of mtDNA evolution, the two species would have diverged from each other about 500,000 years ago, whereas the African and Indian populations of D. nasuta (considered to be different subspecies by some authors) might have diverged some 350,000 years ago.