Abstract

The melanogaster species group of Drosophila (subgenus Sophophora) has long been a favored model for evolutionary studies because of its morphological and ecological diversity and wide geographic distribution. However, phylogenetic relationships among species and subgroups within this lineage are not well understood. We reconstructed the phylogeny of 17 species representing 7 “oriental” species subgroups, which are especially closely related to D. melanogaster. We used DNA sequences of four nuclear and two mitochondrial loci in an attempt to obtain the best possible estimate of species phylogeny and to assess the extent and sources of remaining uncertainties. Comparison of trees derived from single-gene data sets allowed us to identify several strongly supported clades, which were also consistently seen in combined analyses. The relationships among these clades are less certain. The combined data set contains data partitions that are incongruent with each other. Trees reconstructed from the combined data set and from internally homogenous data sets consisting of three or four genes each differ at several deep nodes. The total data set tree is fully resolved and strongly supported at most nodes. Statistical tests indicated that this tree is compatible with all individual and combined data sets. Therefore, we accepted this tree as the most likely model of historical relationships. We compared the new molecular phylogeny to earlier estimates based on morphology and chromosome structure and discuss its taxonomic and evolutionary implications.