Comments on the proposed conservation of the usage of the generic name of Drosophila Fallén, 1823 (Insecta, Diptera) 2 (Case 3407)

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2008
Authors:A. Yassin
Journal:Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature
Start Page:55
Date Published:03/2008
Type of Article:Comment
Full Text

The authors showed the invalidity of the early type designation of Drosophila:Musca cellaris Linnaeus, 1758 (p. 597) by Curtis, 1833 (p. 473) of which the systematic status has never been clarified (and thus invalid); and Musca funebrisFabricius, 1787 (p. 345) by Macquart, 1835 (p. 549) at the same time placed in synonymy with M. cellaris Linnaeus, 1758 (thus equally invalid). However, Zetterstedt’s (1847, p. 2542) designation of M. funebris Fabricius, 1787 has been accepted by most subsequent taxonomists according to the Principle of the First Reviser (Article 24.2 of the Code – Determination by the First Reviser). Furthermore, M. funebris Fabricius, 1787 was transferred to Drosophila by the author of the genus Drosophila Fallén, 1823 (p. 5), whereas Drosophila melanogaster Meigen, 1830 (p. 85) was described later. This can be taken as an additional taxonomic argument in favor of the preservation of Musca funebrisFabricius, 1787 as the type of the genus Drosophila Fallén than for D. melanogaster Meigen, 1830 (Article 23.1 of the Code—Statement of the Principle of Priority).
  Drosophila is the nominotypical genus of the family DROSOPHILIDAE, and any change of the type designation of the genus would inevitably entail dramatic nomenclatural changes in the whole family (Article 36.2 of the Code – Type Genus). Although authors have attempted to make such changes on the basis of molecular phylogenetic studies, it is hard to think that a single application can resolve all nomenclatural problems in a group as large as the genus Drosophila(~1,500 spp.) of which molecular phylogenies are scarcely congruent (Ashburner et al., 2005). If the authors’ propositions of the new generic names formed after the splitting of the current paraphyletic genus Drosophila were accepted, three out of the twelve model species with complete genome sequence of Drosophilawould no longer carry the generic name Drosophila: namely, D. virilis Sturtevant, 1916 (p. 330), D. mojavensis
Patterson in Patterson & Crow, 1940 (p. 251), and D. grimshawi (Oldenberg, 1914, p. 23). Regarding the popularity of Drosophila as a model to biology grant agencies, biologists working on these species and on other related taxa (includingD. funebris) would feel considerable injustice in comparison to biologists working on Drosophila melanogaster-related taxa. Although I totally agree with the authors that the current paraphyletic status of the genus Drosophila violates modern systematic practice, I urge that if a taxonomic change has to be made, it has to follow conventional taxonomic rules with an upgrading of the monophyletic subgenus Sophophora, of which Drosophila melanogaster is the type by original designation (Sturtevant, 1939,
p. 140) to the rank of genus.
  In conclusion, I hope that the Commission will maintain Drosophila funebris(Fabricius, 1787) as the type of the nominotypical genus Drosophila Fallén, 1823 following both the Principles of Priority and of First Reviser.


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Taxonomic Group(s): 
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith