Genetics of divergence in male wing pigmentation and courtship behavior between Drosophila elegans and D. gunungcola

S. D. Yeh, S. R. Liou, J. R. True

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Many sex-specific traits involved in mating consist of functionally coordinated morphologies and behaviors. How the components of these complex traits evolve and become coordinated during evolution is unknown. In order to understand how such trait complexes evolve and diversify, we must decipher the genetic underpinnings of their components. In this study, we begin to elucidate the genetic architecture underlying differences in functionally related male pigmentation and behavior between two Asian Drosophila melanogaster group species, D. elegans and D. gunungcola. D. elegans possesses a male-specific wing melanin spot and a stereotypical wing display element in male courtship, whereas D. gunungcola lacks both of these traits. Using reciprocal F1 male hybrids, we demonstrate that the X-chromosome contains a major locus or loci required for wing spot formation and that autosomal loci largely determine the male courtship display. Using phenotypic and genetic analysis of backcross progeny, we further demonstrate that both the wing spot and courtship differences between the two species are polygenic and both depend at least in small part on genetic factors on both the X and the autosomes. Finally, we find that male wing spot size and courtship wing display are highly correlated in backcross progeny, suggesting that linkage or pleiotropy may have been involved in their coordinated evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-395
Number of pages13
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Correlated characters
  • Courtship behavior
  • Large X-effect
  • Melanin patterns
  • Premating isolation
  • Sexual selection


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