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Is genome size influenced by colonization of new environments in dipteran species?


Christian Biémont, Fax: (33) 4 72 43 13 88; E-mail:


Genome size differences are usually attributed to the amplification and deletion of various repeated DNA sequences, including transposable elements (TEs). Because environmental changes may promote modifications in the amount of these repeated sequences, it has been postulated that when a species colonizes new environments this could be followed by an increase in its genome size. We tested this hypothesis by estimating the genome size of geographically distinct populations of Drosophila ananassae, Drosophila malerkotliana, Drosophila melanogaster, Drosophila simulans, Drosophila subobscura, and Zaprionus indianus, all of which have known colonization capacities. There was no strong statistical differences between continents for most species. However, we found that populations of D. melanogaster from east Africa have smaller genomes than more recent populations. For species in which colonization is a recent event, the differences between genome sizes do not thus seem to be related to colonization history. These findings suggest either that genome size is seldom modified in a significant way during colonization or that it takes time for genome size of invading species to change significantly.