The Drosophila melanogaster species complex consists of four species: D. melanogaster, D. simulans, D. sechellia and D. mauritiana. To identify these closely related species, researchers often examine the male genitalia, especially species-specific shapes of the posterior process, as the most reliable and easily observable character. However, compared to genetic aspects, the evolutionary significance of the posterior process and other genital parts remains largely unexplained. By comparing genital coupling among these species, we revealed that the posterior processes, which are hidden under the female abdominal tergite VII when genital coupling is established, mesh with different parts of the intersegmental membrane between the tergite VIII and the oviscapts and that this membrane region broadens in a species-specific manner. Furthermore, in D. simulans and D. sechellia, this membrane region is likely to incur wounds from the sharply pointed tip of the posterior process. On the basis of the use and functions of these and other genital parts, we discuss possible evolutionary forces underlying the diversification of genitalia in this group.
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