The Genetics of Cuticular Hydrocarbon Profiles in the Fruit Fly Drosophila simulans

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Female mate choice is one mechanism of sexual selection and, provided there is adequate genetic variation in the male traits that are the target of this selection, they will evolve via female choice. Cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) are important in Drosophila mate choice, but relatively little is known about the underlying genetic architecture of CHC profiles in Drosophila simulans. Here, we used gas chromatography–mass spectrometry to investigate patterns of genetic variation in the CHC profiles of male and female D. simulans using isofemale lines. We found substantial genetic variation for CHC profiles and individual CHC components, and individual CHCs were frequently strongly genetically correlated, with a tendency for negative covariance between long- and short-chain CHCs in males. Intersexual genetic covariances were often weak and frequently differed in sign. These findings are novel and significant, highlighting the previously unexplored genetic architecture of CHCs in D. simulans and suggest that this architecture may facilitate sex-specific CHC evolution.

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