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Evolutionary relationships of Drosophila mojavensis geographic host races and their sister species Drosophila arizonae


L. K. Reed, Fax: 520-626-3522; E-mail:


The cactophilic Drosophila mojavensis species group living in the deserts and dry tropical forests of the southwestern United States and Mexico provides a valuable system for studies in diversification and speciation. Rigorous studies of the relationships between host races of D. mojavensis and the relationships among the members of the species group (D. mojavensis, Drosophila arizona, and Drosophila navojoa) are lacking. We used mitochondrial CO1 sequence data to address the phylogenetics and population genetics of this species group. In this study we have found that the sister species D. mojavensis and D. arizonae share no mitochondrial haplotypes and thus show no evidence for recent introgression. We estimate the divergence time between D. mojavensis and D. arizonae to be between 1.91 and 2.97 million years ago. D. arizonae shows little structure in our population genetic analyses but there is phylogenetic differentiation between southeastern and northern populations of D. arizonae. Drosophila mojavensis shows significant population and phylogenetic structure across the four geographic regions of its distribution. The mitochondrial data support an origin of D. mojavensis on the mainland with early differentiation into the populations now found in the Mojave Desert and the Mainland Sonoran Desert and later colonization of the Baja Peninsula, in contrast to previous models. Also, the sister clade to D. mojavensis/D. arizonae includes D. navojoa and Drosophila huaylasi. By defining the genetic relationships among these populations, we provide a foundation for more sophisticated hypothesis testing regarding the timing of early speciation events and host switches in this species group.