Gametic incompatibilities between races of Drosophila melanogaster

J. A. Alipaz, C. I. Wu, T. L. Karr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Reproductive-isolating mechanisms between nascent species may involve sperm-egg recognition and have been best described in externally fertilizing organisms where such recognition is essential in preventing undesirable fertilizations. However, reproductive barriers in internally fertilizing species differ in significant ways, and a direct role for sperm-egg interactions has yet to be demonstrated. Females of many strains of Drosophila melanogaster from Zimbabwe, Africa, do not mate readily with cosmopolitan males. This polymorphism in mate choice is postulated to represent incipient speciation. We now report that, in one direction, crosses between the above populations produce far fewer offspring than reciprocal crosses due to a lower rate of egg hatch. We established that egg inviability in these crosses was due to defects in fertilization. Thus, even in taxa with internal fertilization, gametic incompatibility may be a mechanism relevant to reproductive isolation during incipient speciation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)789-795
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1469
StatePublished - Apr 22 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Gametic incompatibility
  • Incipient speciation
  • Reproductive isolation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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