Drosophila simulans

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Drosophila simulans
Drosophila simulans-female.jpg
Drosophila simulans Adult Female
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Genus: Drosophila
Subgenus: Sophophora
Species group: melanogaster group
Species subgroup: melanogaster subgroup
Species complex: simulans complex
Species: D. simulans
Binomial name
Drosophila simulans
Sturtevant, 1919

Drosophila simulans is a species of fly closely related to D. melanogaster, belonging to the same melanogaster species subgroup. Its closest relatives are D. mauritiana and D. sechellia.


This species was discovered by the fly geneticist Alfred Sturtevant in 1919, when he noticed that the flies used in Thomas Hunt Morgan's laboratory at the Columbia University were actually two distinct species: D. melanogaster and D. simulans. Males differ in the external genitalia, while trained observers can separate females using colour characteristics. D. melanogaster females crossed to D. simulans males produce sterile F1 females and no F1 males. The reciprocal cross produces sterile F1 males and no female progeny.

D. simulans was found later to be closely related to two island endemics, D. sechellia and D. mauritiana. D. simulans will mate with these sister species to form fertile females and sterile males, a fact that has made D. simulans an important model organism for research into speciation.

Studies have provided evidences that paternal leakage is an integral part of the inheritance of this species.[1]

Wolbachia infections give insight into how certain species of Drosophila are related. Through the analysis of cytoplasmic incompatibility and similar mitochondrial DNA, it has been shown that D. simulans and D. mauritiana are more closely related to each other than to D. sechellia. Cytoplasmic incompatibility causes egg and sperm cells to fail in creating viable offspring, a common feature in Wolbachia infected D. simulans and D. mauritiana individuals.[2] Drosophila sechellia has significantly distinct mitochondrial DNA, further emphasizing the evolutionary differences between the three species.

Relationship with Wolbachia[edit]

Infections of Wolbachia, a commonly infectious strain of bacteria, are transmitted between generations of Drosophila simulans. The mechanism by which Wolbachia is inherited through maternal heredity is called cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI).[3]

Wolbachia has formed a symbiotic relationship with D. simulans. Wolbachia infects the cytoplasm of a cell; once infected, a female fly will pass the infection to all resulting offspring through the cytoplasm of her eggs.[citation needed]

Two separate Wolbachia infection events have occurred in the ancestors of D. simulans, suggesting the evolutionary advantage of Wolbachia infections to D. simulans.[4]

Effects of Wolbachia infection[edit]

Studies have shown that Wolbachia infections have significantly decreased virus-induced mortality in D. simulans.[5] While the mechanism for the decreased virus-induced mortality is still unknown, Wolbachia seems to have antiviral properties, potentially perpetuated by outcompeting the virus. Furthermore, different strains of Wolbachia have varying levels of antiviral properties; for example, some Wolbachia strains can protect against DCV (Drosophila C Virus) while other strains cannot.[6]

Benefits of Wolbachia studies[edit]

Drosophila simulans has also played an important role in sequencing the genomes for certain Wolbachia strains. Drosophila simulans eggs were infected with with the wRi Wolbachia strain in order to better understand how Wolbachia recombines.[7] Further studies can help understand how Wolbachia strains coexist with Drosophila simulans individuals. Studying Wolbachia strains and their mechanisms of infection can provide insight into the complex phylogenetic relationships of arthropods.


  1. ^ Wolff, J N; Nafisinia, M; Sutovsky, P; Ballard, J W O (2012). "Paternal transmission of mitochondrial DNA as an integral part of mitochondrial inheritance in metapopulations of Drosophila simulans". Heredity 110 (1): 57–62. doi:10.1038/hdy.2012.60. PMC 3522233. PMID 23010820. 
  2. ^ Rousset, F., Solignac M. 1995. Evolution of single and double Wolbachia symbioses during speciation in the Drosophila simulans complex. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 92: 6389-6393.
  3. ^ Dobson, SL; Rattanadechakul, W; Marsland, EJ (5 May 2004). "Fitness advantage and cytoplasmic incompatibility in Wolbachia single- and superinfected Aedes albopictus". Nature (93): 135 Extra |pages= or |at= (help). doi:10.1038/sj.hdy.6800458. 
  4. ^ Rousset, F.; Solignac, M. (July 1995). "Evolution of single and double Wolbachia symbioses during speciation in the Drosophila simulans complex" (PDF). Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 92: 6389–6293. 
  5. ^ Osborne, S., Leong, Y., O’Neill, S., Johnson, K. 2009. Variation in Antiviral Protection Mediated By Different Wolbachia Strains in Drosophila simulans. PLOS. 11: e1000656-e1000656.
  6. ^ Osborne, S., Leong, Y., O’Neill, S., Johnson, K. 2009. Variation in Antiviral Protection Mediated By Different Wolbachia Strains in Drosophila simulans. PLOS. 11: e1000656-e1000656.
  7. ^ Klasson, L., Westberg, J., Sapountiz, P., Näslund, K., Lutnaes, Y., Darby, A., Veneti, Z., Chen, L., Braig, H., Garrett, R., Bourtzis, K., Andersson, S. 2009. The mosaic genome structure of the Wolbachia wRi strain infecting Drosophila simulans. PNAS. 106: 5725-5730.
  • Sturtevant, A.H. 1919. A new species closely resembling Drosophila melanogaster. Psyche 26: 153–155.
  • Sturtevant, A.H. The North American Species of Drosophila. Carnegie Institute of Washington, 1921.

External links[edit]