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Their collaborators are Jeffrey Feder from the University of Notre Dame and Stewart Berlocher from the University of Illinois.Evolutionary biologists theorize that two populations of a species must be isolated from each other if they are to develop into two distinct species, and Darwin provided the example of one species of bird diverging and becoming reproductively isolated on separate islands in the Galapagos.Using a process called solid phase microextraction, volatiles were absorbed from the fruit and identified in a gas chromatograph using a live insect's own antennae as part of the detection process to determine which volatiles the flies use for host-plant identification.Once key compounds were identified, Linn ran behavioral tests in a flight tunnel.
Just as in the lab, the flies of one race largely ignored, or even avoided, the chemical scent of the other race's fruit.
The researchers at the Geneva Experiment Station, part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell, Ithaca, N.
Y., are Charles Linn, Satoshi Nojima and Wendell Roelofs.
This process is termed "sympatric speciation," and that is what the researchers believe has happened with hawthorn maggots.
The apple and hawthorn maggots are common names for the same species, Rhagoletis pomonella .