A general method for identifying major hybrid male sterility genes in Drosophila
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The genes responsible for hybrid male sterility in species crosses are usually identified by introgressing chromosome segments, monitored by visible markers, between closely related species by continuous backcrosses. This commonly used method, however, suffers from two problems. First, it relies on the availability of markers to monitor the introgressed regions and so the portion of the genome examined is limited to the marked regions. Secondly, the introgressed regions are usually large and it is impossible to tell if the effects of the introgressed regions are the result of single (or few) major genes or many minor genes (polygenes). Here we introduce a simple and general method for identifying putative major hybrid male sterility genes which is free of these problems. In this method, the actual hybrid male sterility genes (rather than markers), or tightly linked gene complexes with large effects, are selectively introgressed from one species into the background of another species by repeated backcrosses. This is performed by selectively backcrossing heterozygous (for hybrid male sterility gene or genes) females producing fertile and sterile sons in roughly equal proportions to males of either parental species. As no marker gene is required for this procedure, this method can be used with any species pairs that produce unisexual sterility. With the application of this method, a small X chromosome region of Drosophila mauritiana which produces complete hybrid male sterility (aspermic testes) in the background of D. simulans was identified. Recombination analysis reveals that this region contains a second major hybrid male sterility gene linked to the forked locus located at either 62.7 +/- 0.66 map units or at the centromere region of the X chromosome of D. mauritiana.
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