Fruitflies (Communication arising)

Pigmentation and mate choice in Drosophila

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Abstract

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.

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References

  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).

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Correspondence to Jerry A. Coyne.

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

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