Genomic and transcriptomic investigation of reproductive incompatibility in Drosophila

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Both nuclear and cytoplasmic elements can contribute to the emergence of reproductive incompatibilities that influence evolution and speciation. In the projects that compose this thesis, we use genomics and transcriptomics to study some of those elements in Drosophila.In the first study, we show that Wolbachia, an endosymbiotic bacterium known to cause reproductive alterations in its hosts, influences gene expression in D. paulistorum. Affected genes were associated with biological functions such as metabolism, immunity, reproduction, and chemical communication. Our results indicate that Wolbachia accentuates the differences in expression profiles between semispecies and suggest that the symbiont influences host pre-and postmating isolation. In the second paper, we uncover widespread persistent heteroplasmy in D. paulistorum. We reveal that D. paulistorum mitochondria are polyphyletic, with two divergent mitotypes, and that the heteroplasmy likely originated through introgression. One of the mitotypes shows biparental inheritance, non-responsiveness to host energy demands and rapid titer increase in the early embryo. We hypothesize that such selfish traits evolved in response to competition between mitotypes.In the third project, we show that differentially expressed genes between D. paulistorum semispecies are associated with a variety of biological processes, especially broad regulatory functions that occur via variability in transcription, translation and ubiquitination of post-translational modification. We reveal that the expression profile of F1 inter-semispecies hybrids is markedly similar to that of the maternal line, and that Wolbachia has a small but potentially significant interaction with genes that are differentially expressed in semispecies and F1 hybrids.Finally, we use comparative genomics to study the evolution of closely related Wolbachia strains with known reproductive phenotypes. We confirm previous observations that Wolbachia genomes are very dynamic and that phage-associated regions are particularly variable and likely involved in horizontal transfer of genes linked to reproductive phenotypes. An in-depth screen for genetic elements potentially involved in Wolbachia-induced cytoplasmic incompatibility recovers genes previously known to be involved in the phenotype and novel candidates.In conclusion, this thesis contributes to our understanding of genetic factors that affect Drosophila evolution, particularly those leading to reproductive incompatibility in D. paulistorum and associated with Wolbachia.