Unequal crossing over at the rRNA tandon as a source of quantitative genetic variation in Drosophila

R. Frankham, D. A. Briscoe, R. K. Nurthen

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    22 Citations (Scopus)


    Abdominal bristle selection lines (three high and three low) and controls were founded from a marked homozygous line to measure the contribution of sex-linked "mutations" to selection response. Two of the low lines exhibited a period of rapid response to selection in females, but not in males. There were corresponding changes in female variance, in heritabilities in females, in the sex ratio (a deficiency of females) and in fitness, as well as the appearance of a mutant phenotype in females of one line. All of these changes were due to bb alleles (partial deficiencies for the rRNA tandon) in the X chromosomes of these lines, while the Y chromosomes remained wild-type bb+. We argue that the bb alleles arose by unequal crossing over in the rRNA tandon.—A prediction of this hypothesis is that further changes can occur in the rRNA tandon as selection is continued. This has now been shown to occur.—Our minimum estimate of the rate of occurrence of changes at the rRNA tandon is 3 × 10-4. As this is substantially higher than conventional mutation rates, the questions of the mechanisms and rates of origin of new quantitative genetic variation require careful re-examination.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)727-742
    Number of pages16
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1980


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