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  1. Abstract

    Binary communication systems that involve sex‐specific signaling and sex‐specific signal perception play a key role in sexual selection and in the evolution of sexually dimorphic traits. The driving forces and genetic changes underlying such traits can be investigated in systems where sex‐specific signaling and perception have emerged recently and show evidence of potential coevolution. A promising model is found inDrosophila prolongata, which exhibits a species‐specific increase in the number of male chemosensory bristles. We show that this transition coincides with recent evolutionary changes in cuticular hydrocarbon (CHC) profiles. Long‐chain CHCs that are sexually monomorphic in the closest relatives ofD. prolongata(D. rhopaloa,D. carrolli,D. kurseongensis, andD. fuyamai) are strongly male‐biased in this species. We also identify an intraspecific female‐limited polymorphism, where some females have male‐like CHC profiles. Both the origin of sexually dimorphic CHC profiles and the female‐limited polymorphism inD. prolongatainvolve changes in the relative amounts of three mono‐alkene homologs, 9‐tricosene, 9‐pentacosene, and 9‐heptacosene, all of which share a common biosynthetic origin and point to a potentially simple genetic change underlying these traits. Our results suggest that pheromone synthesis may have coevolved with chemosensory perception and open the way for reconstructing the origin of sexual dimorphism in this communication system.

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