Two genomic regions together cause dark abdominal pigmentation in Drosophila tenebrosa
Pigmentation is a rapidly evolving trait that is under both natural and sexual selection in many organisms. In the quinaria group of Drosophila, nearly all of the 30 species have an abdomen that is light in color with distinct markings; D. tenebrosa is the exception in that it has a completely melanic abdomen with no visible markings. In this study, we use a combination of quantitative genetic and candidate gene approaches to investigate the genetic basis of abdominal pigmentation in D. tenebrosa. We find that abdominal pigmentation is invariant across wild-caught lines of D. tenebrosa and is not sexually dimorphic. Quantitative genetic mapping utilizing crosses between D. tenebrosa and the light-colored D. suboccidentalis indicates that two genomic regions together underlie abdominal pigmentation, including the X-chromosome and an autosome (Muller Element C/E). Further support for their central importance in pigmentation is that experimental introgression of one phenotype into the other species, in either direction, results in introgression of these two genomic regions. Finally, the expression of the X-linked gene yellow in the pupae exactly foreshadows the adult melanization pattern in the abdomen of both species, suggesting that changes in the regulation of yellow are important for the phenotypic divergence of D. tenebrosa from the rest of the quinaria group. These results contribute to a body of work that demonstrates how changes in expression of highly conserved genes can cause substantial phenotypic differences even between closely related species. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.
Two genomic regions together cause dark abdominal pigmentation in Drosophila tenebrosa.
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