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Open Access Publications from the University of California

On the evolution of Dopa decarboxylase (Ddc) and Drosophila systematics.

  • Author(s): Tatarenkov, A
  • Kwiatowski, J
  • Skarecky, D
  • Barrio, E
  • Ayala, FJ
  • et al.

We have sequenced most of the coding region of the gene Dopa decarboxylase (Ddc) in 24 fruitfly species. The Ddc gene is quite informative about Drosophila phylogeny. Several outstanding issues in Drosophila phylogeny are resolved by analysis of the Ddc sequences alone or in combination with three other genes, Sod, Adh, and Gpdh. The three species groups, melanogaster, obscura, and willistoni, are each monophyletic and all three combined form a monophyletic group, which corresponds to the subgenus Sophophora. The Sophophora subgenus is the sister group to all other Drosophila subgenera (including some named genera, previously considered outside the Drosophila genus, namely, Scaptomyza and Zaprionus, which are therefore downgraded to the category of subgenus). The Hawaiian Drosophila and Scaptomyza are a monophyletic group, which is the sister clade to the virilis and repleta groups of the subgenus Drosophila. The subgenus Drosophila appears to be paraphyletic, although this is not definitely resolved. The two genera Scaptodrosophila and Chymomyza are older than the genus Drosophila. The data favor the hypothesis that Chymomyza is older than Scaptodrosophila, although this issue is not definitely resolved. Molecular evolution is erratic. The rates of nucleotide substitution in 3rd codon position relative to positions 1 + 2 vary from one species lineage to another and from gene to gene.

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