The sex comb on the forelegs of Drosophila males is a secondary sexual trait, and the number of teeth on these combs varies greatly within and between species. To understand the relationship between the intra- and interspecific variation, we performed quantitative trait locus (QTL) analyses of the intraspecific variation in sex-comb tooth number. We used five mapping populations derived from two inbred Drosophila simulans strains that were divergent in the number of sex-comb teeth. Although no QTLs were detected on the X chromosome, we identified four QTLs on the second chromosome and three QTLs on the third chromosome. While identification and estimated effects of the second-chromosome QTLs depend on genetic backgrounds, significant and consistent effects of the two third-chromosome QTLs were found in two genetic backgrounds. There were significant epistatic interactions between a second-chromosome QTL and a third-chromosome QTL, as well as between two second-chromosome QTLs. The third-chromosome QTLs are concordant with the locations of the QTLs responsible for the previously observed differences in sex-comb tooth number between D. simulans and D. mauritiana.
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