Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Data from: Reproductive isolation caused by azoospermia in sterile male hybrids of Drosophila


Davis, Hunter; Sosulski, Nicholas; Civetta, Alberto (2021), Data from: Reproductive isolation caused by azoospermia in sterile male hybrids of Drosophila, Dryad, Dataset,


Recently diverged populations in the early stages of speciation offer an opportunity to understand mechanisms of isolation and their relative contributions. Drosophila willistoni is a tropical species with broad distribution from Argentina to the southern United States, including the Caribbean islands. A postzygotic barrier between northern populations (North America, Central America and the northern Caribbean islands) and southern populations (South American and the southern Caribbean islands) has been recently documented and used to propose the existence of two different subspecies. Here we identify premating isolation between populations regardless of their subspecies status. We find no evidence of postmating prezygotic isolation and proceeded to characterize hybrid male sterility between the subspecies. Sterile male hybrids transfer an ejaculate that is devoid of sperm but causes elongation and expansion of the female uterus. In sterile male hybrids, bulging of the seminal vesicle appears to impede the movement of the sperm towards the sperm pump, where sperm normally mixes with accessory gland products. Our results highlight a unique form of hybrid male sterility in Drosophila that is driven by a mechanical impediment to transfer sperm rather than by an abnormality of the sperm itself. Interestingly, this form of sterility is reminiscent of a form of infertility (azoospermia) that is caused by lack of sperm in the semen due to blockages that impede the sperm from reaching the ejaculate.