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Keywords:

  • chromosomal rearrangements;
  • Drosophila americana;
  • Drosophila novamexicana;
  • molecular phylogenetics

Abstract

The evolutionary history of closely related organisms can prove sometimes difficult to infer. Hybridization and incomplete lineage sorting are the main concerns; however, genome rearrangements can also influence the outcome of analyses based on nuclear sequences. In the present study, DNA sequences from 12 nuclear genes, for which the approximate chromosomal locations are known, have been used to estimate the evolutionary history of two forms of Drosophila americana (Drosophila americana americana and Drosophila americana texana) and Drosophila novamexicana (virilis group of species). The phylogenetic analysis of the combined data set resulted in a phylogeny showing reciprocal monophyly for D. novamexicana and D. americana. Single gene analyses, however, resulted in incongruent phylogenies influenced by chromosomal rearrangements. Genetic differentiation estimates indicated a significant differentiation between the two species for all genes. Within D. americana, however, there is no evidence for differentiation between the chromosomal forms except at genes located near the X/4 fusion and Xc inversion breakpoint. Thus, the specific status of D. americana and D. novamexicana is confirmed, but there is no overall evidence for genetic differentiation between D. a. americana and D. a. texana, not supporting a subspecific status. Based on levels of allele and nucleotide diversity found in the strains used, it is proposed that D. americana has had a stable, large population during the recent past while D. novamexicana has speciated from a peripheral southwestern population having had an ancestral small effective population size. The influence of chromosomal rearrangements in single gene analyses is also examined.