Drosophila melanogaster and D. simulans rescue strains produce fit offspring, despite divergent centromere-specific histone alleles

A. Sainz, J. A. Wilder, M. Wolf, H. Hollocher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The interaction between rapidly evolving centromere sequences and conserved kinetochore machinery appears to be mediated by centromere-binding proteins. A recent theory proposes that the independent evolution of centromere-binding proteins in isolated populations may be a universal cause of speciation among eukaryotes. In Drosophila the centromere-specific histone, Cid (centromere identifier), shows extensive sequence divergence between D. melanogaster and the D. simulans clade, indicating that centromere machinery incompatibilities may indeed be involved in reproductive isolation and speciation. However, it is presently unclear whether the adaptive evolution of Cid was a cause of the divergence between these species, or merely a product of postspeciation adaptation in the separate lineages. Furthermore, the extent to which divergent centromere identifier proteins provide a barrier to reproduction remains unknown. Interestingly, a small number of rescue lines from both D. melanogaster and D. simulans can restore hybrid fitness. Through comparisons of cid sequence between nonrescue and rescue strains, we show that cid is not involved in restoring hybrid viability or female fertility. Further, we demonstrate that divergent cid alleles are not sufficient to cause inviability or female sterility in hybrid crosses. Our data do not dispute the rapid divergence of cid or the coevolution of centromeric components in Drosophila; however, they do suggest that cid underwent adaptive evolution after D. melanogaster and D. simulans diverged and, consequently, is not a speciation gene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-35
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Centromere identifier
  • Drosophila
  • Rescue
  • Speciation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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