Drosophila files in "Evolution Canyon" as a model for incipient sympatric speciation

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The genetic basis of population divergence leading to adaptive radiation and speciation is a major unresolved problem of evolutionary biology. Molecular elucidation of "speciation genes" advanced recently, yet it remains without clear identification of the gene complexes participating in reproductive isolation between natural populations, particularly, in sympatry. Genetic divergence was discovered between Drosophila melanogaster populations inhabiting ecologically contrasting, opposite slopes in "Evolution Canyon" (EC), Mt. Carmel, Israel. Interslope migration of flies is easy and verified. Nevertheless, significant interslope D. melanogaster population divergence was established at EC involving habitat choice, mate choice, thermal and drought tolerances, adaptive genes, and mobile elements. Parallel patterns of stress tolerance, habitat choice, and mate choice were demonstrated in Drosophila simulans at EC, although on a smaller scale. However, some tests for interslope genetic differentiation in Drosophila, derived from the opposite EC slopes, gave somewhat controversial results. Here we present new empirical data on interslope genetic divergence of Drosophila at EC, and summarize previous supporting and controversial results. We suggest that Drosophila populations at EC represent a rare example, demonstrating how selection overrides migration, and propose an ad hoc ecological model of incipient sympatric divergence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18184-18189
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number48
StatePublished - 28 Nov 2006


  • Genetic divergence
  • Incipient differentiation
  • Natural populations
  • Sympatric evolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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