Recombination Rates in Drosophila


Recombination occurs during meiosis to produce new allelic combinations in natural populations, making it important for studying evolution. The model system Drosophila has been crucial for understanding the mechanics underlying recombination and assessing the association between recombination rate and several evolutionary parameters. Drosophila was the first system in which genetic maps were developed using recombination frequencies between genes. Linkage maps have been subsequently developed in many biological systems, including humans. Fungal systems have been helpful in highlighting the mechanics of recombination and identifying particular enzymes that perform various steps in the process; however, similar proteins have been identified in Drosophila. Further, Drosophila has been used to determine genetic and environmental conditions that cause variation in recombination rate. Finally, Drosophila has been instrumental in elucidating associations between local recombination rate and nucleotide diversity, divergence and codon bias, as well as helping determine the causes of these associations.

Key Concepts

  • Recombination refers to either independent assortment or crossing over, both of which are responsible for introducing genetic variation during meiosis.

  • Drosophila has been crucial in the development of genetic mapping techniques, which have been extended to other organismal systems including humans.

  • Fungal systems have been critical to the discovery of the underlying mechanics of crossing over.

  • Several key environmental conditions that cause recombination rate variation have been identified primarily in Drosophila.

  • Recombination rate variation within a genome is in part due to ‘hotspots’ that concentrate double‐strand breaks to particular regions of the genome.

  • The demonstrated relationship between nucleotide diversity and recombination rate in Drosophila has been repeated in many organismal systems.

  • The relationship between recombination rate and genetic divergence has been less repeatable between different organismal systems, due to either mechanical or evolutionary processes.

Keywords: recombination; crossover rates; Drosophila; linkage maps; gene conversion

Figure 1.

A genetic linkage map of the four chromosomes of Drosophila. Reproduced from Morgan TH, Sturtevant AH, Muller HJ and Bridges CB (1915) The mechanism of Mendelian heredity. New York: H Holt and Company.

Figure 2.

Two major models of genetic recombination (a) Szostak DSBR model (b) Allers and Lichten SDSA model. Modified from Haber et al., . Repairing a double‐strand chromosome break by homologous recombination: revisiting Robin Holliday's model. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B‐Biological Sciences 359: 79–86. Reproduced with permission from The Royal Society.



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Further Reading

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How to Cite close
Stevison, Laurie S, and Noor, Mohamed A F(Sep 2009) Recombination Rates in Drosophila. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0021731]