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Hawaiian Drosophila as an Evolutionary Model Clade: Days of Future Past

O'Grady, Patrick, DeSalle, Rob
BioEssays 2018 v.40 no.5 pp. e1700246
Drosophila melanogaster, biogeography, genomics, models
The Hawaiian Drosophila have been a model system for evolutionary, ecological, and ethological studies since the inception of the Hawaiian Drosophila Project in the 1960s. Here we review the past and present research on this incredible lineage and provide a prospectus for future directions on genomics and microbial interactions. While the number of publications on this group has waxed and waned over the years, we assert that recent systematic, biogeographic, and ecological studies have reinvigorated Hawaiian Drosophila as an evolutionary model system. The characteristics that distinguish good model clades from good model organisms (e.g., Drosophila melanogaster) are somewhat different so we first define what constitutes a good evolutionary model. We argue that the Hawaiian Drosophila possess many desired aspects of a good evolutionary model, describe how this group of geographically isolated flies have been used in the past, and propose some exciting avenues for future evolutionary research on this diverse, dynamic clade of Drosophila.