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Multiple Quantitative Trait Loci Influence the Shape of a Male-Specific Genital Structure in Drosophila melanogaster.

McNeil, Casey L; Bain, Clint L; Macdonald, Stuart J.
G3 (Bethesda); 1(5): 343-51, 2011 Oct.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-22384345
The observation that male genitalia diverge more rapidly than other morphological traits during evolution is taxonomically widespread and likely due to some form of sexual selection. One way to elucidate the evolutionary forces acting on these traits is to detail the genetic architecture of variation both within and between species, a program of research that is considerably more tractable in a model system. Drosophila melanogaster and its sibling species, D. simulans, D. mauritiana, and D. sechellia, are morphologically distinguishable only by the shape of the posterior lobe, a male-specific elaboration of the genital arch. We extend earlier studies identifying quantitative trait loci (QTL) responsible for lobe divergence across species and report the first genetic dissection of lobe shape variation within a species. Using an advanced intercross mapping design, we identify three autosomal QTL contributing to the difference in lobe shape between a pair of D. melanogaster inbred lines. The QTL each contribute 4.6-10.7% to shape variation, and two show a significant epistatic interaction. Interestingly, these intraspecific QTL map to the same locations as interspecific lobe QTL, implying some shared genetic control of the trait within and between species. As a first step toward a mechanistic understanding of natural lobe shape variation, we find an association between our QTL data and a set of genes that show sex-biased expression in the developing genital imaginal disc (the precursor of the adult genitalia). These genes are good candidates to harbor naturally segregating polymorphisms contributing to posterior lobe shape.
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