Epistasis modifies the dominance of loci causing hybrid male sterility in the Drosophila pseudoobscura species group.
Speciation, the evolution of reproductive isolation between populations, serves as the driving force for generating biodiversity. Postzygotic barriers to gene flow, such as F(1) hybrid sterility and inviability, play important roles in the establishment and maintenance of biological species. F(1) hybrid incompatibilities in taxa that obey Haldane's rule, the observation that the heterogametic sex suffers greater hybrid fitness problems than the homogametic sex, are thought to often result from interactions between recessive-acting X-linked loci and dominant-acting autosomal loci. Because they play such prominent roles in producing hybrid incompatibilities, we examine the dominance and nature of epistasis between alleles derived from Drosophila persimilis that confer hybrid male sterility in the genetic background of its sister species, D. pseudoobscura bogotana. We show that epistasis elevates the apparent dominance of individually recessive-acting QTL such that they can contribute to F(1) hybrid sterility. These results have important implications for assumptions underlying theoretical models of hybrid incompatibilities and may offer a possible explanation for why, to date, identification of dominant-acting autosomal "speciation genes" has been challenging.
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