A comprehensive study of genic variation in natural populations of Drosophila melanogaster. VII. Varying rates of genic divergence as revealed by two-dimensional electrophoresis.
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Four sibling species from the melanogaster subgroup (Drosophila melanogaster, D. simulans, D. sechellia, and D. mauritiana) were studied for genetic divergence, by high-resolution two-dimensional protein electrophoresis (2DE) coupled with ultrasensitive silver staining. A total of eight tissues from larval and adult developmental stages representing both gonadal (germ-line) and nongonadal (somatic) tissues were analyzed for protein divergence between species. Close to 400 polypeptides (protein spots) were scored from each tissue and species, and protein divergence was measured on the basis of qualitative differences (presence/absence) of protein spots in pairwise species comparisons. The observed levels of genic divergence varied among tissues and among species. When larval hemolymph proteins (which are known to be highly polymorphic) were excluded, there was no evidence to suggest that either the larval or adult-stage proteins, as a whole, are more diverged than the other; variation between different tissues rather than between developmental stages appears to be the most significant factor affecting genetic divergence between species. The reproductive tissue (testis and accessory gland) showed more divergence than did the nonreproductive tissue; D. melanogaster testis (from both larvae and adult males) showed the highest level of divergence. In view of the previous observation that D. simulans, D. mauritiana, and D. sechellia show similar but significantly less reproductive isolation from each other than from D. melanogaster, the present results suggest a correlation between the levels of reproductive-tract-protein divergence and the degree of reproductive isolation in these species.
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