The standard definition of species refers to the concept of reproductive isolation. If two lineages are found to be reproductively isolated, then we consider these two lineages to belong to different species. My question concerns evolved reproductive isolation in Drosophila sp. following labs due to experimental evolution.


Have we ever demonstrated that two Drosophila sp. lineages that could initially interbreed (in nature or in labs) evolved through artificial selection (and drift and mutations) in labs to finally not be able to interbreed anymore either due pre- or post- zygotic isolation (see wiki)? Or, in other words, have we ever demonstrated that two drosophila lineages evolved to become different species (reproductive isolation definition) in labs experiments?

If not, have we ever observed some partial reproductive isolation such as inbreeding depression for example?

Note: This question is motivated by @LotusBiology that could not receive the answers she/he was waiting for because he/she failed to ask questions that are possibly answerable! So I wanted to ask this question that somehow addresses this question he/she asked (now on-hold)

For more information about the concept of species, please have a look at How could humans have interbred with Neanderthals if we're a different species?

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    $\begingroup$ Reproductive isolation in not only Drosophila but other species is the basis of Daniel Matute's research (dm-incompatibilities.org). $\endgroup$
    – kmm
    May 31, 2014 at 15:33

2 Answers 2


Rice and Salt$^1$ bred fruit flies for 35 generations and from one line of flies created two groups that were isolated from each other reproductively. They could not interbreed because they no longer bred in the same environment. Depending on one's definition of 'species' this could be a case of artificial speciation.

$^1$Rice WR, Salt GW (1988), Speciation via disruptive selection on habitat preference: experimental evidence". The American Naturalist 131 (6): 911–917.

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    $\begingroup$ Also there was one experiment by diane dodd...mate preferences of fruit flies changed. $\endgroup$
    – biogirl
    May 31, 2014 at 14:14

Diane Dodd's experiments on Drosophila pseudoobscura would be another example of lab-based speciation.


To summarise - four populations each adapted to feeding on a starch-based diet and a maltose-based diet were evolved in the lab to test effects on mating preferences; compared to what is expected by random, using chi-squared tests, 11 of 16 combinations showed greater isolation than expected by chance - strong evidence for assortative mating.

An alternate link to the PDF of the paper is here http://www.sulfide-life.info/mtobler/images/stories/readings/dodd%201989%20evolution.pdf


Dodd, Diane M. B. (September 1989). "Reproductive isolation as a consequence of adaptive divergence in Drosophila pseudoobscura". Evolution 43 (6): 1308–1311. doi:10.2307/2409365.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you summarize the results so that if the link dies the answer will still have value? $\endgroup$ Jul 2, 2014 at 3:25
  • $\begingroup$ @AnkurChakravarthy The link no longer works I am afraid. Can you please edit it and as JamesJenkins asked, can you please add a short summary of this article or post your link in a comment. Thanks a lot! $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Jul 16, 2014 at 17:33

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