Email updates

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

Open Access Research article

Evolution of sexual dimorphism of wing shape in the Drosophila melanogaster subgroup

Nelly A Gidaszewski12*, Michel Baylac3 and Christian Peter Klingenberg1*

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Michael Smith Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PT, UK

2 Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Alfred Denny Building, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK

3 Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Laboratoire d'Entomologie, 45 rue Buffon, 75005 Paris, France

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2009, 9:110  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-9-110

Published: 20 May 2009

Abstract

Background

Sexual dimorphism of body size has been the subject of numerous studies, but few have examined sexual shape dimorphism (SShD) and its evolution. Allometry, the shape change associated with size variation, has been suggested to be a main component of SShD. Yet little is known about the relative importance of the allometric and non-allometric components for the evolution of SShD.

Results

We investigated sexual dimorphism in wing shape in the nine species of the Drosophila melanogaster subgroup. We used geometric morphometrics to characterise wing shape and found significant SShD in all nine species. The amount of shape difference and the diversity of the shape changes evolved across the group. However, mapping the divergence of SShD onto the phylogeny of the Drosophila melanogaster subgroup indicated that there is little phylogenetic signal. Finally, allometry accounted for a substantial part of SShD, but did not explain the bulk of evolutionary divergence in SShD because allometry itself was found to be evolutionarily plastic.

Conclusion

SShD in the Drosophila wing can evolve rapidly and therefore shows only weak phylogenetic structure. The variable contribution of allometric and non-allometric components to the evolutionary divergence of SShD and the evolutionary plasticity of allometry suggest that SShD and allometry are influenced by a complex interaction of processes.