, Volume 139, Issue 10, pp 1331–1337 | Cite as

Genetic variation in heat-stress tolerance among South American Drosophila populations

  • Lindsey C. Fallis
  • Juan Jose Fanara
  • Theodore J. Morgan


Spatial or temporal differences in environmental variables, such as temperature, are ubiquitous in nature and impose stress on organisms. This is especially true for organisms that are isothermal with the environment, such as insects. Understanding the means by which insects respond to temperature and how they will react to novel changes in environmental temperature is important for understanding the adaptive capacity of populations and to predict future trajectories of evolutionary change. The organismal response to heat has been identified as an important environmental variable for insects that can dramatically influence life history characters and geographic range. In the current study we surveyed the amount of variation in heat tolerance among Drosophila melanogaster populations collected at diverse sites along a latitudinal gradient in Argentina (24°–38°S). This is the first study to quantify heat tolerance in South American populations and our work demonstrates that most of the populations surveyed have abundant within-population phenotypic variation, while still exhibiting significant variation among populations. The one exception was the most heat tolerant population that comes from a climate exhibiting the warmest annual mean temperature. All together our results suggest there is abundant genetic variation for heat-tolerance phenotypes within and among natural populations of Drosophila and this variation has likely been shaped by environmental temperature.


Heat survival Thermotolerance Temperature stress resistance 



We thank S. Menon for assistance with flies used in this study. This paper was greatly improved by the helpful comments of R.A. Krebs, R.C. Woodruff, and two anonymous reviews. This work was supported by grants from the US National Science Foundation (IOS-1051770), the KSU Ecological Genomics Institute, the KSU Arthropod Genomics Center to TJM and fellowships (NSF GK-12 and GAANN) to LCF.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lindsey C. Fallis
    • 1
  • Juan Jose Fanara
    • 2
  • Theodore J. Morgan
    • 1
  1. 1.The Division of Biology, The Ecological Genomics InstituteKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA
  2. 2.Departamento de Ecología, Genética y EvoluciónFCEN UBAIBuenos AiresArgentina

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