Embryonic lethality leads to hybrid male inviability in hybrids between Drosophila melanogaster and D. santomea
Article first published online: 23 APR 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
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Ecology and Evolution
Volume 3, Issue 6, pages 1580–1589, June 2013
How to Cite
Ecology and Evolution 2013; 3(6): 1580–1589
- Issue published online: 12 JUN 2013
- Article first published online: 23 APR 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 25 MAR 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 21 MAR 2013
- Manuscript Received: 4 FEB 2013
- Chicago Fellowships
- Drosophila ;
- embryonic lethality;
- Haldane's rule;
- postzygotic isolation
The study of the morphological defects unique to interspecific hybrids can reveal which developmental pathways have diverged between species. Drosophila melanogaster and D. santomea diverged more than 10 million years ago, and when crossed produce sterile adult females. Adult hybrid males are absent from all interspecific crosses. We aimed to determine the fate of these hybrid males. To do so, we tracked the development of hybrid females and males using classic genetic markers and techniques. We found that hybrid males die predominantly as embryos with severe segment-specification defects while a large proportion of hybrid females embryos hatch and survive to adulthood. In particular, we show that most male embryos show a characteristic abdominal ablation phenotype, not observed in either parental species. This suggests that sex-specific embryonic developmental defects eliminate hybrid males in this interspecific cross. The study of the developmental abnormalities that occur in hybrids can lead to the understanding of cryptic molecular divergence between species sharing a conserved body plan.