Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Evolutionary Biology and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Evidence for positive selection in the gene fruitless in Anastrepha fruit flies

Iderval S Sobrinho* and Reinaldo A de Brito

Author Affiliations

Universidade Federal de São Carlos, Departamento de Genética e Evolução, 13565-905. CP 676. São Carlos-SP. Brazil

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2010, 10:293  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-10-293

Published: 24 September 2010

Abstract

Background

Many genes involved in the sex determining cascade have indicated signals of positive selection and rapid evolution across different species. Even though fruitless is an important gene involved mostly in several aspects of male courtship behavior, the few studies so far have explained its high rates of evolution by relaxed selective constraints. This would indicate that a large portion of this gene has evolved neutrally, contrary to what has been observed for other genes in the sex cascade.

Results

Here we test whether the fruitless gene has evolved neutrally or under positive selection in species of Anastrepha (Tephritidae: Diptera) using two different approaches, a long-term evolutionary analysis and a populational genetic data analysis. The first analysis was performed by using sequences of three species of Anastrepha and sequences from several species of Drosophila using the ratio of nonsynonymous to synonymous rates of evolution in PAML, which revealed that the fru region here studied has evolved by positive selection. Using Bayes Empirical Bayes we estimated that 16 sites located in the connecting region of the fruitless gene were evolving under positive selection. We also investigated for signs of this positive selection using populational data from 50 specimens from three species of Anastrepha from different localities in Brazil. The use of standard tests of selection and a new test that compares patterns of differential survival between synonymous and nonsynonymous in evolutionary time also provide evidence of positive selection across species and of a selective sweep for one of the species investigated.

Conclusions

Our data indicate that the high diversification of fru connecting region in Anastrepha flies is due at least in part to positive selection, not merely as a consequence of relaxed selective constraint. These conclusions are based not only on the comparison of distantly related taxa that show long-term divergence time, but also on recently diverged lineages and suggest that episodes of adaptive evolution in fru may be related to sexual selection and/or conflict related to its involvement in male courtship behavior.