Evolutionary history of the third chromosome gene arrangements of drosophila pseudoobscura inferred from inversion breakpoints

Andre G. Wallace, Don Detweiler, Stephen W. Schaeffer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The third chromosome of Drosophila pseudoobscura is polymorphic for numerous gene arrangements that form classical clines in North America. The polytene salivary chromosomes isolated from natural populations revealed changes in gene order that allowed the different gene arrangements to be linked together by paracentric inversions representing one of the first cases where genetic data were used to construct a phylogeny. Although the inversion phylogeny can be used to determine the relationships among the gene arrangements, the cytogenetic data are unable to infer the ancestral arrangement or the age of the different chromosome types. These are both important properties if one is to infer the evolutionary forces responsible for the spread and maintenance of the chromosomes. Here, we employ the nucleotide sequences of 18 regions distributed across the third chromosome in 80-100 D. pseudoobscura strains to test whether five gene arrangements are of unique or multiple origin, what the ancestral arrangement was, and what are the ages of the different arrangements. Each strain carried one of six commonly found gene arrangements and the sequences were used to infer their evolutionary relationships. Breakpoint regions in the center of the chromosome supported monophyly of the gene arrangements, whereas regions at the ends of the chromosome gave phylogenies that provided less support for monophyly of the chromosomes either because the individual markers did not have enough phylogenetically informative sites or genetic exchange scrambled information among the gene arrangements. A data set where the genetic markers were concatenated strongly supported a unique origin of the different gene arrangements. The inversion polymorphism of D. pseudoobscura is estimated to be about a million years old. We have also shown that the generated phylogeny is consistent with the cytological phylogeny of this species. In addition, the data presented here support hypothetical as the ancestral arrangement. One of the youngest arrangements, Arrowhead, has one of the highest population frequencies suggesting that selection has been responsible for its rapid increase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2219-2229
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular biology and evolution
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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