Sexual selection on wing interference patterns in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Abstract

Animals with color vision use color information in intra- and interspecific communication, which in turn may drive the evolution of conspicuous colored body traits via natural and sexual selection. A recent study found that the transparent wings of small flies and wasps in lower-reflectance light environments display vivid and stable structural color patterns, called "wing interference patterns" (WIPs). Such WIPs were hypothesized to function in sexual selection among small insects with wing displays, but this has not been experimentally verified. Here, to our knowledge we present the first experimental evidence that WIPs in males of Drosophila melanogaster are targets of mate choice from females, and that two different color traits-saturation and hue-experience directional and stabilizing sexual selection, respectively. Using isogenic lines from the D. melanogaster Genetic Reference Panel, we compare attractiveness of different male WIPs against black and white visual backgrounds. We show that males with more vivid wings are more attractive to females than are males with dull wings. Wings with a large magenta area (i.e., intermediate trait values) were also preferred over those with a large blue or yellow area. These experimental results add a visual element to the Drosophila mating array, integrating sexual selection with elements of genetics and evo-devo, potentially applicable to a wide array of small insects with hyaline wings. Our results further underscore that the mode of sexual selection on such visual signals can differ profoundly between different color components, in this case hue and saturation.

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  • Biological Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15144-15148
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Volume111
Issue number42
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes