Strong regional heterogeneity in base composition evolution on the Drosophila X chromosome

Wen Ya Ko, Shengfu Piao, Hiroshi Akashi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Fluctuations in base composition appear to be prevalent in Drosophila and mammal genome evolution, but their timescale, genomic breadth, and causes remain obscure. Here, we study base composition evolution within the X chromosomes of Drosophila melanogaster and five of its close relatives. Substitutions were inferred on six extant and two ancestral lineages for 14 near-telomeric and 9 nontelomeric genes. GC content evolution is highly variable both within the genome and within the phylogenetic tree. In the lineages leading to D. yakuba and D. orena, GC content at silent sites has increased rapidly near telomeres, but has decreased in more proximal (nontelomeric) regions. D. orena shows a 17-fold excess of GC-increasing vs. AT-increasing synonymous changes within a small (∼130-kb) region close to the telomeric end. Base composition changes within introns are consistent with changes in mutation patterns, but stronger GC elevation at synonymous sites suggests contributions of natural selection or biased gene conversion. The Drosophila yakuba lineage shows a less extreme elevation of GC content distributed over a wider genetic region (∼1.2 Mb). A lack of change in GC content for most introns within this region suggests a role of natural selection in localized base composition fluctuations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-362
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006


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