The mesophragmatica group of Drosophila belongs to the virilis-repleta radiation of the Drosophila subgenus. This group comprises 13 Neotropical species that are endemic to the South-American continent and seem to be fundamentally Andean in their distribution. The mesophragmatica-group phylogeny has been inferred previously by other authors based on morphological, cytological, and isozyme analyses. However, the relationships within the group have not yet been completely resolved, although its monophyletic origin has already been confirmed by molecular data. This work attempts to enhance the molecular approach to the relationships among the species of the mesophragmatica group, using both nuclear and mitochondrial markers. Phylogenetic analyses were performed using fragments of the nuclear alcohol dehydrogenase (Adh; 631 bp), alpha-methyldopa (Amd; 1211 bp), dopa-decarboxylase (Ddc; 1105 bp), and hunchback (Hb; 687 bp) genes and the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit II (COII; 672 bp) gene, and included a total of 4306 bp. The sequences obtained for eight representatives of the mesophragmatica group were analyzed both individually and in combination by distance methods, maximum parsimony, and maximum likelihood. Our results support subdivision of the mesophragmatica group into three main lineages: the first is composed of D. viracochi; the second comprises a clade grouping the sibling species D. pavani and D. gaucha; and the third encompasses D. gasici, D. brncici, and D. mesophragmatica. The best supported scenario suggests that D. viracochi is an early offshoot in the mesophragmatica group, with this and other early branchings occuring in the Pliocene/Pleistocene Epochs, possibly associated with Andean glacial refuges. Also based on the phylogenies obtained, we present a genealogical view of the evolution of previously described characters within the group.
Andes mountain system