Journal of Biosciences

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 331–339 | Cite as

Desiccation stress induces developmental heterochrony in Drosophila melanogaster

  • Leena Thorat
  • Dasharath P Oulkar
  • Kaushik Banerjee
  • Bimalendu B NathEmail author
Brief communication


Stressful environments are known to perturb developmental patterns in insects. In the purview of desiccation as a stressor, relatively little is known about the developmental consequences linked with desiccation tolerance. In this study, we have particularly focused on the exploration of the temporal profile of postembryonic development in response to desiccation exposure in Drosophila melanogaster and the associated trade-offs. We document a correlation between variations in 20-hydroxyecdysone levels and the altered timing of metamorphic events during the life cycle. Following desiccation, we observed an extension in the larval longevity whereas the duration of the pupal and adult stages was significantly shortened. Alternately, feeding of 20-hydroxyecdysone apparently led to the restoration of the normal temporal pattern of development in the desiccated group. In spite of the desiccation-responsive heterochronic shifts in development, the overall lifespan post recovery remained almost unaltered among the desiccated and undesiccated groups suggesting plasticity in developmental control. This observation reminisces ‘canalization-like’ phenomenon that buffers alterations in the overall lifespan. We thus identified a desiccation-responsive period in the lifespan of D. melanogaster during which variations in ecdysone levels are capable to alter the temporal course of development.


20-Hydroxyecdysone canalization desiccation developmental heterochrony Drosophila melanogaster 



We thank Dr Takashi Okuda (NIAS, Japan) for critical advice and discussions on insect desiccation tolerance. Partial funding for this work was received from DST-PURSE to the Department of Zoology and from the UoP-BCUD grant (OSD/BCUD/360/18) to BBN.


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Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leena Thorat
    • 1
  • Dasharath P Oulkar
    • 2
  • Kaushik Banerjee
    • 2
  • Bimalendu B Nath
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Stress Biology Research Laboratory, Department of ZoologySavitribai Phule Pune UniversityPuneIndia
  2. 2.National Referral LaboratoryNational Research Centre for GrapesPuneIndia

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