High divergence of reproductive tract proteins and their association with postzygotic reproductive isolation in Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila virilis group species
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The possible association between gonadal protein divergence and postzygotic reproductive isolation was investigated among species of the Drosophila melanogaster and D. virilis groups. Protein divergence was scored by high-resolution two-dimensional electrophoresis (2DE). Close to 500 protein spots from gonadal tissues (testis and ovary) and nongonadal tissues (malpighian tubules and brain) were analyzed and protein divergence was calculated based on presence vs absence. Both testis and ovary proteins showed higher divergence than nongonadal proteins, and also a highly significant positive correlation with postzygotic reproductive isolation but a weaker correlation with postzygotic reproductive isolation. Particularly, a positive and significant correlation was found between proteins expressed in the testis and postzygotic reproductive isolation among closely related species such as the within-phylad species in the D. virilis group. The high levels of male-reproductive-tract protein divergence between species might be associated with F1 hybrid male sterility among closely related species. If so, a lower level of ovary protein divergence should be expected on the basis that F1 female hybrids are fully fertile. However, this is not necessarily true if relatively few genes are responsible for the reproductive isolation observed between closely related species, as recent studies seem to suggest. We suggest that the faster rate of evolution of gonadal proteins in comparison to nongonadal proteins and the association of that rate with postzygotic reproductive isolation may be the result of episodic and/or sexual selection on male and female molecular traits.
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