Population Genomics on the Fly: Recent Advances in Drosophila

Annabelle Haudry, Stefan Laurent, Martin Kapun


Drosophila melanogaster, a small dipteran of African origin, represents one of the best-studied model organisms. Early work in this system has uniquely shed light on the basic principles of genetics and resulted in a versatile collection of genetic tools that allow to uncover mechanistic links between genotype and phenotype. Moreover, given its worldwide distribution in diverse habitats and its moderate genome-size, Drosophila has proven very powerful for population genetics inference and was one of the first eukaryotes whose genome was fully sequenced. In this book chapter, we provide a brief historical overview of research in Drosophila and then focus on recent advances during the genomic era. After describing different types and sources of genomic data, we discuss mechanisms of neutral evolution including the demographic history of Drosophila and the effects of recombination and biased gene conversion. Then, we review recent advances in detecting genome-wide signals of selection, such as soft and hard selective sweeps. We further provide a brief introduction to background selection, selection of noncoding DNA and codon usage and focus on the role of structural variants, such as transposable elements and chromosomal inversions, during the adaptive process. Finally, we discuss how genomic data helps to dissect neutral and adaptive evolutionary mechanisms that shape genetic and phenotypic variation in natural populations along environmental gradients. In summary, this book chapter serves as a starting point to Drosophila population genomics and provides an introduction to the system and an overview to data sources, important population genetic concepts and recent advances in the field.