Genetic control and evolution of sexually dimorphic characters in Drosophilia

Artyom Kopp, Ian Duncan, Sean B. Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

280 Scopus citations


Sexually dimorphic abdominal pigmentation and segment morphology evolved recently in the melanogaster species group of the fruitfly Drosophila. Here we show that these traits are controlled by the bric-a-brac (bab) gene, which integrates regulatory inputs from the homeotic and sex-determination pathways. bab expression is modulated segment- and sex-specifically in sexually dimorphic species, but is uniform in sexually monomorphic species. We suggest that bab has an ancestral homeotic function, and that regulatory changes at the bab locus played a key role in the evolution of sexual dimorphism. Pigmentation patterns specified by bab affect mating preferences, suggesting that sexual selection has contributed to the evolution of bab regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-559
Number of pages7
Issue number6812
StatePublished - Nov 30 2000


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