, 129:133 | Cite as

Climatic selection on genes and traits after a 100 year-old invasion: a critical look at the temperate-tropical clines in Drosophila melanogaster from eastern Australia

  • Ary A. Hoffmann
  • Andrew R. Weeks
Original Paper


Drosophila melanogaster invaded Australia around 100 years ago, most likely through a northern invasion. The wide range of climatic conditions in eastern Australia across which D. melanogaster is now found provides an opportunity for researchers to identify traits and genes that are associated with climatic adaptation. Allozyme studies indicate clinal patterns for at least four loci including a strong linear cline in Adh and a non-linear cline in α-Gpdh. Inversion clines were initially established from cytological studies but have now been validated with larger sample sizes using molecular markers for breakpoints. Recent collections indicate that some genetic markers (Adh and In(3R)Payne) have changed over the last 20 years reflecting continuing evolution. Heritable clines have been established for quantitative traits including wing length/area, thorax length and cold and heat resistance. A cline in egg size independent of body size and a weak cline in competitive ability have also been established. Postulated clinal patterns for resistance to desiccation and starvation have not been supported by extensive sampling. Experiments under laboratory and semi-natural conditions have suggested selective factors generating clinal patterns, particularly for reproductive patterns over winter. Attempts are being made to link clinal variation in traits to specific genes using QTL analysis and the candidate locus approach, and to identify the genetic architecture of trait variation along the cline. This is proving difficult because of inversion polymorphisms that generate disequilibrium among genes. Substantial gaps still remain in linking clines to field selection and understanding the genetic and physiological basis of the adaptive shifts. However D. melanogaster populations in eastern Australia remain an excellent resource for understanding past and future evolutionary responses to climate change.


Cline Drosophila Selection Climate Adaptation Allozyme Inversion 



We thank George Gilchrist and Carol Eunmi Lee for the opportunity to present this overview, and the Australian Research Council via their Special Research Centre, Federation Fellowship and Postdoctoral Fellowship schemes for financial support.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research, Department of GeneticsUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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