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A Single Gene Causes Both Male Sterility and Segregation Distortion in Drosophila Hybrids

Science  16 Jan 2009:
Vol. 323, Issue 5912, pp. 376-379
DOI: 10.1126/science.1163934

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Abstract

A central goal of evolutionary biology is to identify the genes and evolutionary forces that cause speciation, the emergence of reproductive isolation between populations. Despite the identification of several genes that cause hybrid sterility or inviability—many of which have evolved rapidly under positive Darwinian selection—little is known about the ecological or genomic forces that drive the evolution of postzygotic isolation. Here, we show that the same gene, Overdrive, causes both male sterility and segregation distortion in F1 hybrids between the Bogota and U.S. subspecies of Drosophila pseudoobscura. This segregation distorter gene is essential for hybrid sterility, a strong reproductive barrier between these young taxa. Our results suggest that genetic conflict may be an important evolutionary force in speciation.

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