Latitudinal Variation in Starvation Resistance is Explained by Lipid Content in Natural Populations of Drosophila melanogaster
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One of the most common environmental stressors is a shortage or suboptimal quality of food, thus all animals deal with periods of starvation. In the present study we examine variation in starvation resistance, longevity and body lipid content and the correlations between traits along an environmental gradient using isofemale lines recently derived from natural populations of Drosophila melanogaster from South America. The use of isofemale lines and controlled rearing laboratory conditions allows us to investigate within and among population components of genetic variation and the potential associations among starvation resistance, longevity and body lipid content. All these traits were analyzed separately in females and males, improving our understanding of sexual dimorphism. Our results revealed significant differences among populations in starvation resistance and longevity. Actually, the opposing latitudinal cline detected for starvation resistance suggests that natural selection played an essential role in shaping the pattern of geographic variation in this trait. Moreover, we also detected a positive relationship between starvation resistance and body lipid content in both sexes, providing evidence for a physiological and/or evolutionary association between these traits. Conversely, starvation resistance was not correlated with longevity indicating that these traits might be enabled to evolve independently. Finally, our study reveals that there is abundant within population genetic variation for all traits that may be maintained by sex-specific effects.
KeywordsGenetic correlation Latitudinal cline Genetic variation Genotype × sex interaction Starvation resistance Drosophila melanogaster
This work was supported by funding from Consejo Nacional de Investigación Científica y Técnica (CONICET), Agencia Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica (ANPCyT) and Buenos Aires University.
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