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Polytene chromosomes as indicators of phylogeny in several species groups of Drosophila



Polytene chromosome banding patterns have long been used by Drosophila evolutionists to infer degree of relatedness among taxa. Recently, nucleotide sequences have preempted this traditional method. We place the classical Drosophila evolutionary biology tools of polytene chromosome inversion analysis in a phylogenetic context and assess their utility in comparison to nucleotide sequences.


A simultaneous analysis framework was used to examine the congruence of the chromosomal inversion data with more recent DNA sequence data in four Drosophila species groups - the melanogaster, virilis, repleta, and picture wing. Inversions and nucleotides were highly congruent with one another based on incongruence length difference and partitioned Bremer support values. Inversion phylogenies were less resolved because of fewer numbers of characters. Partitioned Bremer supports, corrected for the number of characters in each matrix, were higher for inversion matrices.


Polytene chromosome data are highly congruent with DNA sequence data and, when placed in a simultaneous analysis framework, are shown to be more information rich than nucleotide data.

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