Contrasting patterns of X-linked and autosomal nucleotide variation in Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila simulans

Peter Andolfatto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

210 Scopus citations


Surveys of molecular variation in Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila simulans have suggested that diversity outside of Africa is a subset of that within Africa. It has been argued that reduced levels of diversity in non-African populations reflect a population bottleneck, adaptation to temperate climates, or both. Here, I summarize the available single-nucleotide polymorphism data for both species. A simple "out of Africa" bottleneck scenario is consistent with geographic patterns for loci on the X chromosome but not with loci on the autosomes. Interestingly, there is a trend toward lower nucleotide diversity on the X chromosome relative to autosomes in non-African populations of D. melanogaster, but the opposite trend is seen in African populations. In African populations, autosomal inversion polymorphisms in D. melanogaster may contribute to reduced autosome diversity relative to the X chromosome. To elucidate the role that selection might play in shaping patterns of variability, I present a summary of within- and between-species patterns of synonymous and replacement variation in both species. Overall, D. melanogaster autosomes harbor an excess of amino acid replacement polymorphisms relative to D. simulans. Interestingly, range expansion from Africa appears to have had little effect on synonymous-to-replacement polymorphism ratios.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-290
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular biology and evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


  • Bottleneck
  • Deleterious mutations
  • Dominance
  • Inversion
  • Nonsynonymous
  • Polymorphism
  • Selection
  • Synonymous


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