A molecular phylogeny for the Drosophila melanogaster subgroup and the problem of polymorphism data

Adalgisa Caccone, Etsuko N. Moriyama, Jennifer M. Gleason, Loredana Nigro, Jeffrey R. Powell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Drosophila melanogaster belongs to a closely related group of eight species collectively known as the melanogaster subgroup; all are native to sub-Saharan Africa and islands off the east coast of Africa. The phylogenetic relationships of most species in this subgroup have been well documented; however, the three most closely related species. D. simulans, D. sechellia, and D. mauritiana, have remained problematic from a phylogenetic standpoint as no data set has unambiguously resolved them. We present new DNA sequence data on the nullo and Serendipity-α genes and combine them with all available nuclear DNA sequence data; the total data encompass 12 genes and the ITS of rDNA. A methodological problem arose because nine of the genes had information on intraspecific polymorphisms in at least one species. We explored the effect of inclusion/exclusion of polymorphic sites and found that it had very little effect on phylogenetic inferences, due largely to the fact that 82% of polymorphisms are autapomorphies (unique to one species). We have also reanalyzed our previous DNA-DNA hybridization data with a bootstrap procedure. The combined sequence data set and the DNA-DNA hybridization data strongly support the sister status of the two island species, D. sechellia and D. mauritiana. This at least partially resolves what had been a paradox of parallel evolution in these two species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1224-1232
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular biology and evolution
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Drosophila melanogaster subgroup
  • Sry-α
  • molecular phylogenies
  • nullo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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