The Nature of Genetic Variation in Sex and Reproduction-related Genes Among Sibling Species of the Drosophila melanogaster Complex
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Much is known about the biology of Drosophila melanogaster. As a model organism, a comprehensive understanding of its development, physiology and reproduction has been acquired. As a result, a broad variety of transferable genetic tools and information has allowed sibling species of the D. melanogaster complex to emerge as an important speciation model system. By comparing D. melanogaster with its close relative, Drosophila simulans, as well as its other sibling species, we are beginning to understand the nature of genetic changes during the early stages of speciation. In general, we find that genes and traits involved in sex and reproduction are more variable. A large assortment of genes and traits that are involved in various aspects of mating and fertility reveal diagnostic differences between these sibling species. Sex and reproduction-related (SRR) genes are, on average, more diverged than genes with no apparent reproductive function. Furthermore, SRR genes appear more permissive at opting in novel function. These results follow a general trend observed in other taxa and demonstrate the preferential involvement of SRR genes in reproductive isolation and species formation.
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