, Volume 195, Issue 9, pp 825-829

Environmental control of ovarian dormancy in natural populations of Drosophila melanogaster

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Drosophila melanogaster from Australia, Europe and North America enter an adult ovarian dormancy in response to short days and low temperatures. The independent effects of temperature and day length in the determination of dormancy have been examined only in one long-established laboratory line (Canton-S). In all other studies of natural or laboratory populations, dormancy has been assessed at either a single short day or a single moderately low temperature. Herein, we determine the relative roles of temperature, photoperiod, and their interaction in the control of ovarian dormancy in D. melanogaster from two natural populations representing latitudinal extremes in eastern North America (Florida at 27°N and Maine at 44°N). In both natural populations, temperature is the main determinant of dormancy, alone explaining 67% of the total variation among replicate isofemale lines, whereas photoperiod has no significant effect. We conclude that ovarian dormancy in D. melanogaster is a temperature-initiated syndrome of winter-tolerant traits that represents an adaptive phenotypic plasticity in temperate seasonal environments.