Speciation is the process whereby a single reproductively unified group of organisms diverges into two such groups. Little is known about the types of genes that generate reproductive isolation. The experiments outlined in this proposal aim to identify candidate genes contributing to reproductive isolation between two fruit fly species, Drososphila simulans and D. mauritiana. Although these species can hybridize, postmating reproductive isolation still exists due to the preferential fertilization of eggs by sperm of conspecific males. The chromosomal regions of genes that influence both male and female components of this sperm competition trait will be localized through genetic mapping.
By pondering a mechanism to explain the origin of species, Charles Darwin elucidated the theory of evolution via natural selection. Much progress in the field of evolutionary biology has been made since the introduction of this seminal theory. However, the process of speciation is still a mystery, particularly at the genetic level. The results of this study will help identify "speciation genes" that can be subjected to various analyses, and ultimately contribute to a general understanding of mechanisms of speciation.