Sensory components of behavioral isolation between Zimbabwe and cosmopolitan Drosophila melanogaster

Daina Ma, Dean Smith, Zhichao Zheng, Pawel Michalak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Successful reproduction requires males and females from the same species to recognize and prefer each other over individuals of other species. Mate recognition is mediated through the sensory systems, and one way speciation can occur is through behavioral isolation via sensory cues. Drosophila melanogaster females from central Africa (the "Zimbabwe" morph) prefer to mate with Zimbabwe males over males from other Drosophila strains (" Cosmopolitan" strains). Cosmopolitan females typically show little or no preference towards Cosmopolitan males. We hypothesize that alterations in one or more cues detected by the sensory system underlie the mating preferences of Zimbabwe females. Here, we investigate the relative contributions of three sensory factors (olfaction, vision, and hearing) to female mating preference using a number of Zimbabwe strains. Our findings suggest that auditory and visual cues are the most critical to this mate choice preference phenomenon. These results elucidate plausible mechanisms underlying incipient speciation in Drosophila.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-206
Number of pages10
JournalIsrael Journal of Ecology and Evolution
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010


  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • behavioral reproductive isolation
  • sensory effects
  • sexual behavior
  • speciation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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