, Volume 18, Issue 7-8, pp 727-742

Alcohol dehydrogenase polymorphism in the seaweed fly, Coelopa frigida

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Abstract

Seaweed flies (Coelopa frigida) inhabit piles of decaying seaweed on the seashore. All populations so far studied have been found to be polymorphic at the alcohol dehydrogenase locus (Adh). This article reports an attempt to identify some of the forces of natural selection that may be maintaining this polymorphism. First, the genetic determination of the rather complex isozyme system is described. Several inbred lines homozygous at the Adh locus were derived and the biochemical properties of their allozymes compared. Significant differences in both specific activities and thermal stabilities were found between ADH allozymes. A simple experiment is reported in which individuals with different Adh genotypes were cultured in competition with each other in the presence of elevated levels of ethanol. Although the presence of ethanol resulted in greater mortality, there is no evidence that it was selective with respect to the Adh genotypes. The possible relevance of these results to the maintenance of the Adh polymorphism is discussed.

This work was supported by a grant to T. H. D. from the Science Research Council.