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When species interbreed, the hybrid offspring that are produced are often sterile. If only one hybrid sex is sterile, it is almost always the heterogametic (XY or ZW) sex. Taking this trend into account, the predominant model used to explain the genetic basis of F1 sterility involves a deleterious interaction between recessive sex-linked loci from one species and dominant autosomal loci from the other species. This model is difficult to evaluate, however, as only a handful of loci influencing interspecies hybrid sterility have been identified, and their autosomal genetic interactors have remained elusive. One hindrance to their identification has been the overwhelming effect of the sex chromosome in mapping studies, which could 'mask' the ability to accurately map autosomal factors. Here, we use a novel approach employing attached-X chromosomes to create reciprocal backcross interspecies hybrid males that have a non-recombinant sex chromosome and recombinant autosomes. The heritable variation in phenotype is thus solely caused by differences in the autosomes, thereby allowing us to accurately identify the number and location of autosomal sterility loci. In one direction of backcross, all males were sterile, indicating that sterility could be entirely induced by the sex chromosome complement in these males. In the other direction, we identified nine quantitative trait loci that account for a surprisingly large amount (56%) of the autosome-induced phenotypic variance in sterility, with a large contribution of autosome-autosome epistatic interactions. These loci are capable of acting dominantly, and thus could contribute to F1 hybrid sterility.


Christopher T D Dickman, Amanda J Moehring. A Novel Approach Identifying Hybrid Sterility QTL on the Autosomes of Drosophila simulans and D. mauritiana. PloS one. 2013;8(9):e73325

PMID: 24039910

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