Fruitflies (Communication arising)

Pigmentation and mate choice in Drosophila

Article metrics


Many species of the fruitfly Drosophila are either sexually dimorphic for abdominal pigmentation (the posterior segments in males are black and those of females have thin dark stripes) or sexually monomorphic for this pigmentation (both sexes show striping). Kopp et al.1 report a correlation in two Drosophila clades between the expression of the bric-à-brac (bab) gene, which represses male-specific pigmentation in D. melanogaster females, and the presence of sexually dimorphic pigmentation. They suggest that sexual selection acted to produce sexual dichromatism in Drosophila by altering the regulation of bab, on the grounds that D. melanogaster males show a strong mate preference for females with lightly pigmented abdomens, and that this discrimination helps to maintain sexual dichromatism by preventing males from wasting time by courting other (darkly pigmented) males. Here we show that the mate discrimination observed by Kopp et al.1 may in fact have resulted from the nature of the strains and comparisons they used in their study and so could be irrelevant to mate choice in nature.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Kopp, A., Duncan, I. & Carroll, S. B. Nature 408, 553–559 (2000)

  2. 2

    David, J. R., Capy, P., Payant, V. & Tsakas, S. Gen. Sel. Evol. 17, 211–224 (1985).

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Jerry A. Coyne.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Llopart, A., Elwyn, S. & Coyne, J. Pigmentation and mate choice in Drosophila. Nature 419, 360 (2002) doi:10.1038/419360a

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.