The genetics of resistance to Morinda fruit toxin during the postembryonic stages in Drosophila sechellia

The genetics of resistance to Morinda fruit toxin during the postembryonic stages in Drosophila sechellia

Yan Huang, Deniz Erezyilmaz

Many phytophagous insect species are ecologic specialists that have adapted to utilize a single host plant. Drosophila sechellia is a specialist that utilizes the ripe fruit of Morinda citrifolia, which is toxic to its sibling species, D. simulans. Here we apply multiplexed shotgun genotyping and QTL analysis to examine the genetic basis of resistance to M. citrifolia fruit toxin in interspecific hybrids. We find that at least four dominant and four recessive loci interact additively to confer resistance to the M. citrifolia fruit toxin. These QTL include a dominant locus of large effect on the third chromosome (QTL-IIIsima) that was not detected in previous analyses. The small-effect loci that we identify overlap with regions that were identified in selection experiments with D. simulans on octanoic acid and in QTL analyses of adult resistance to octanoic acid. Our high-resolution analysis sheds new light upon the complexity of M. citrifolia resistance, and suggests that partial resistance to lower levels of M. citrifolia toxin could be passed through introgression from D. sechellia to D. simulans in nature. The identification of a locus of major effect, QTL-IIIsima, is an important step towards identifying the molecular basis of host plant specialization by D. sechellia.


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