Sexual Interactions Between Two Distantly Related Drosophila Species, D. melanogaster and D. willistoni (Diptera: Drosophilidae)


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Abstract

Molecular analysis suggests that the pomace fly Drosophila melanogaster acquired the P family of transposable elements from another Drosophila species, D. willistoni. Since the two species are distantly related, it has been assumed that transmission of P element DNA from D. willistoni to D. melanogaster was mediated by a vector. The possibility of an alternative mode of transmission was assessed by characterizing the sexual behaviors of D. willistoni males and females, then observing D. willistoni and D. melanogaster males and females to see whether males from one species interacted sexually with females from the other species in a laboratory setting. We observed that D. melanogaster males court D. willistoni females vigorously and, in some cases, stimulate the females to be receptive to copulation. However, D. willistoni males perform relatively little courtship in response to D. melanogaster females and do not attempt to copulate. Thus, it is unlikely that sexual interactions effected the transmission of P element DNA from D. willistoni to D. melanogaster in the flies' natural habitat.

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