Genome-wide dissection of hybrid sterility in drosophila confirms a polygenic threshold architecture

Tomás Morán, Antonio Fontdevila

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11 Citations (Scopus)


To date, different studies about the genetic basis of hybrid male sterility (HMS), a postzygotic reproductive barrier thoroughly investigated using Drosophila species, have demonstrated that no single major gene can produce hybrid sterility without the cooperation of several genetic factors. Early work using hybrids between Drosophila koepferae (Dk) and Drosophila buzzatii (Db) was consistent with the idea that HMS requires the cooperation of several genetic factors, supporting a polygenic threshold (PT) model. Here we present a genome-wide mapping strategy to test the PT model, analyzing serially backcrossed fertile and sterile males in which the Dk genome was introgressed into the Db background. We identified 32 Dk-specific markers significantly associated with hybrid sterility. Our results demonstrate 1) a strong correlation between the number of segregated sterility markers and males' degree of sterility, 2) the exchangeability among markers, 3) their tendency to cluster into low-recombining chromosomal regions, and 4) the requirement for a minimum number (threshold) of markers to elicit sterility. Although our findings do not contradict a role for occasional major hybrid-sterility genes, they conform more to the view that HMS primarily evolves by the cumulative action of many interacting genes of minor effect in a complex PT architecture. © 2014 © The American Genetic Association 2014. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-396
JournalJournal of Heredity
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • AFLP markers
  • Polygenes
  • Reproductive isolation
  • Speciation genes


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