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Lack of correlation between interspecific divergence and intraspecific polymorphism at the suppressor of forked region in Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila simulans.

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  • Research Article
  • Biology


Levels of DNA sequence polymorphism at the suppressor of forked [su(f)] region in natural populations of Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila simulans are estimated by restriction map analysis. su(f) is located at the base of the euchromatic portion of the X chromosome where the level of crossing-over per physical length is extremely low. In a survey of 55 alleles from three natural populations of D. melanogaster, only 2 restriction sites of 27 hexanucleotide and 108 tetranucleotide restriction sites scored are polymorphic. Among 103 alleles from three natural populations of D. simulans, just one polymorphic restriction site is found in 109 tetranucleotide-recognizing restriction sites scored. The few polymorphisms in these surveys yield estimates of per site heterozygosities (0.00, 0.0002, and 0.0005, respectively) at least a factor of 10 less than the average observed at loci located in regions of the genome with normal levels of crossing-over. Because under a broad category of models of molecular evolution (including the neutral theory) a correlation between levels of polymorphism and interspecific divergence is expected, the DNA sequence divergence is examined for the su(f) region. Contrary to the predicted correlation, the estimated divergence (0.12 substitution per silent site) is, in fact, greater than that observed at loci in regions of normal crossing-over. According to an alternative hypothesis (hitchhiking effect model) intraspecific polymorphism is swept out of the population in regions of the genome closely linked to rare but selectively favored variants as they quickly go to fixation; the rate of divergence is, however, unaffected by these rare hitchhiking events. Thus, the observed paucity of polymorphism and lack of correlation with divergence are in accord with the theory of the hitchhiking effect and several recent reports of polymorphism and divergence in other genomic regions with reduced crossing-over per physical length.

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