In 1983, an extensive survey of populations of D. melanogaster was started in a southern French region (Languedoc) in two non-Mendelian systems: the P–M system of transposable elements and the hereditary Rhabdovirus sigma. Unexpectedly fast-evolving phenomena were observed and interesting correlations were noted, giving similar geographical pattern to the region in both systems. For these reasons, the analysis was continued and extended towards the north (Rhône Valley) and the south (Spain). In the P–M system, all the Languedoc populations evolved from 1983 to 1991 towards the Q type which is characteristic of the Rhône Valley populations. In contrast, M′ strains are currently observed in the southernmost French populations and in all Spanish ones, so that there is a clear pattern in their geographical distribution.
The frequency of flies infected by the sigma virus dramatically increased from 1983 to 1988 in Languedoc; this increase was clearly correlated with some viral characteristics. But, in northern France, similar characteristics did not trigger any increase in the frequency of infected flies. The data presented here show that the distinctive features of Languedoc extend northwards through the Rhone Valley up to Lyon and disappears southwards before the Spanish border.