Genetics Research

Research Papers

Abundant genetic variability in Drosophila simulans for hybrid female lethality in interspecific crosses to Drosophila melanogaster


a1 Department of Biology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627, USA

a2 Université Paris-Sud, Evolution Génomes Spéciation, CNRS, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette, France


Intrinsic postzygotic reproductive isolation is thought to result from the substitution of multiple harmless or beneficial genetic differences between species that are incidentally deleterious when combined in species hybrids, causing hybrid sterility or inviability. Genetic variability for hybrid sterility or inviability phenotypes is, however, rarely assessed in natural populations. Here, we assess variation for Drosophila simulans-encoded maternal factor(s) that cause lethality in D. simulans–Drosophila melanogaster F1 hybrid females. First, we survey genetic variability in the strength of D. simulans-mediated maternal effect hybrid lethality among 37 geographic and laboratory isolates. We find abundant variability in the strength of maternal effect hybrid lethality, ranging from complete lethality to none. Second, we assess maternal effect hybrid lethality for a subset of wild isolates made heterozygous with two so-called hybrid rescue strains. The results suggest that the D. simulans maternal effect hybrid lethality involves a diversity of alleles and/or multiple loci.

(Received October 22 2011)

(Revised December 22 2011)

(Accepted January 05 2012)


c1 Corresponding author: Laboratoire Evolution Génomes Spéciation UPR CNRS 9034 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France. E-mail: