Developmental instability is particularly pronounced in parthenogenetic strains of Drosophila mercatorum. All parthenogenetically produced eggs in a given strain have the same genotype, but even when reared in the same environment, only approximately 5% of the eggs initiating development ever reach adulthood. A sexual analogue of a parthenogenetic strain was created to investigate the basis of this developmental instability. The two strains have identical genotypes (except for the Y chromosome in males of the sexual strain) and differ only in mode of reproduction. The sexual strain had a much lower rate of developmental instability than the parthenogenetic strain, suggesting that the instability is caused by the mode of reproduction per se and is not due to homozygosity, disruption of coadapted gene complexes, or any other feature of the parthenogenetic genome. The increased rate of abortion with parthenogenetic reproduction is caused by a proportional increase in the normal panoply of errors that occur in sexual reproduction but at a much lower rate. Attempts to establish other sexual analogues of laboratory parthenogenetic strains revealed different male sterility factors within several parthenogenetic genomes that could potentially act to prevent hybridization with sexually reproducing ancestors during the incipient stages in the evolution of an entirely parthenogenetic lineage.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Developmental Biology