Genomic impacts of chromosomal inversions in parapatric drosophila species

Suzanne E. McGaugh, Mohamed A.F. Noor

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91 Scopus citations


Chromosomal inversions impact genetic variation and facilitate speciation in part by reducing recombination in heterokaryotypes. We generated multiple whole-genome shotgun sequences of the parapatric species pair Drosophila pseudoobscura and Drosophila persimilis and their sympatric outgroup (Drosophila miranda) and compared the average pairwise differences for neutral sites within, just outside and far outside of the three large inversions. Divergence betweenD. pseudoobscura andD. Persimilis is high inside the inversions and in the suppressed recombination regions extending 2.5 Mb outside of inversions, but significantly lower in collinear regions further from the inversions. We observe little evidence of decreased divergence predicted to exist in the centre of inversions, suggesting that gene flow through double crossovers or gene conversion is limited within the inversion, or selection is acting within the inversion to maintain divergence in the face of gene flow. In combination with past studies, we provide evidence that inversions in this system maintain areas of high divergence in the face of hybridization, and have done so for a substantial period of time. The left arm of the X chromosome and chromosome 2 inversions appear to have arisen in the lineage leading to D. persimilis approximately 2 Ma, near the time of the split of D. persimilis-D. pseudoobscura-D. miranda, but likely fixed within D. persimilis much more recently, as diversity within D. persimilis is substantially reduced inside and near these two inversions. We also hypothesize that the inversions in D. persimilis may provide an empirical example of the 'mixed geographical mode' theory of inversion origin and fixation, whereby allopatry and secondary contact both play a role.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-429
Number of pages8
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1587
StatePublished - Feb 5 2012


  • Divergence
  • Diversity
  • Drosophila persimilis
  • Drosophila pseudoobscura
  • Genome resequencing


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