Gene expression differentiation in the reproductive tissues of Drosophila willistoni subspecies and their hybrids

José M. Ranz*, Alwyn C. Go, Pablo M. González, Bryan D. Clifton, Suzanne Gomes, Amirali Jaberyzadeh, Amanda Woodbury, Carolus Chan, Kania A. Gandasetiawan, Suvini Jayasekera, Chelsea Gaudreau, Hsiu Ching Ma, Victor M. Salceda, Cei Abreu-Goodger, Alberto Civetta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Early lineage diversification is central to understand what mutational events drive species divergence. Particularly, gene misregulation in interspecific hybrids can inform about what genes and pathways underlie hybrid dysfunction. In Drosophila hybrids, how regulatory evolution impacts different reproductive tissues remains understudied. Here, we generate a new genome assembly and annotation in Drosophila willistoni and analyse the patterns of transcriptome divergence between two allopatrically evolved D. willistoni subspecies, their male sterile and female fertile hybrid progeny across testis, male accessory gland, and ovary. Patterns of transcriptome divergence and modes of regulatory evolution were tissue-specific. Despite no indication for cell-type differences in hybrid testis, this tissue exhibited the largest magnitude of expression differentiation between subspecies and between parentals and hybrids. No evidence for anomalous dosage compensation in hybrid male tissues was detected nor was a differential role for the neo- and the ancestral arms of the D. willistoni X chromosome. Compared to the autosomes, the X chromosome appeared enriched for transgressively expressed genes in testis despite being the least differentiated in expression between subspecies. Evidence for fine genome clustering of transgressively expressed genes suggests a role of chromatin structure on hybrid gene misregulation. Lastly, transgressively expressed genes in the testis of the sterile male progeny were enriched for GO terms not typically associated with sperm function, instead hinting at anomalous development of the reproductive tissue. Our thorough tissue-level portrait of transcriptome differentiation between recently diverged D. willistoni subspecies and their hybrids provides a more nuanced view of early regulatory changes during speciation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3605-3623
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number13
Early online date31 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • dosage compensation
  • hybrid dysfunction
  • neo-X chromosome
  • regulatory evolution
  • transcriptome divergence


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