Donald Price (Life Sciences) was part of a team including scientists from Harvard, Bishop Museum, Louisiana State University, UC Davis, and the University of Hawaii that recently published an article in Current Biology titled "Reproductive Capacity Evolves in Response to Ecology through Common Changes in Cell Number in Hawaiian Drosophila." They investigated potential effects of ecology on the developmental processes underlying ovariole number evolution among Hawaiian Drosophila, a large adaptive radiation wherein the highest and lowest ovariole numbers of the family have evolved within 25 million years. They tested the hypothesis that ovariole number correlated with oviposition substrate by applying phylogenetic modeling to an expanded sampling of ovariole numbers and substrate types and show support for these predictions across all major groups of Hawaiian Drosophila, wherein ovariole number variation is best explained by adaptation to specific substrates. Furthermore, they showed that oviposition substrate evolution is linked to changes in the allometric relationship between body size and ovariole number. Finally, they provide evidence that the major changes in ovarian cell number that regulate D. melanogaster ovariole number also regulate ovariole number in Hawaiian drosophilids. Thus, the evidence indicates that this remarkable adaptive radiation is linked to evolutionary changes in a key reproductive trait regulated at least partly by variation in the same developmental parameters that operate in the model species D. melanogaster.
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