Genetical Research

Research Article

Insertion-deletion variation at the yellow-achaete-scute region in two natural populations of Drosophila melanogaster

Robin N. Beecha1 p1 and Andrew J. Leigh Browna1 c1

a1 Department of Genetics, University of Edinburgh, King's Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3JN, Scotland


We have surveyed the region of the X chromosome of Drosophila melanogaster which encodes the yellow, achaete and scute genes for restriction map variation. Two natural populations, one from North Carolina, U.S.A. and the other from southern Spain were screened for variation at about 70 restriction sites and for variation due to DNA insertion or deletion events in 120 kilobases of DNA. Mean heterozygosity per nucleotide was estimated to be 0·0024 and 15 large insertions were found in the 49 chromosomes screened. Extensive disequilibrium between polymorphic sites was found across much of the region in the North Carolina population. The frequency of large insertions, which usually correspond to transposable genetic elements, is significantly lower than has been observed in autosomal regions of the genome. This is predicted for X-linked loci by certain models of transposable element evolution, where copy number is restricted by virtue of the recessive deleterious effects of the insertions. Our results appear to support such models. The deficiency of insertions may in this case be enhanced by hitch-hiking effects arising from the high level of disequilibrium.

(Received May 06 1988)

(Revised August 17 1988)


c1 Corresponding author.

p1 Present address: Department of Zoology, Biological Sciences Centre, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2E9 Canada.