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Chromosomal polymorphism is associated with nematode parasitism in a natural population of a tropical midge


A natural population of a tropical midge, Chironomus ramosus (Diptera: Chironomidae), was found to be polymorphic for a paracentric inversion (IV: 18C–19D). Based on the characteristic banding pattern of the fourth chromosome in the larval salivary gland polytene nuclei, individuals were classified as either structural homozygotes or heterozygotes. Isofemale lines were obtained and subsequently standard (S/S) and inversion (I/I) homozygotes were characterised by careful progeny testing in the laboratory. While exploring various biotic and abiotic factors that might be responsible for the maintenance of inversion polymorphism, we detected nematode (Family: Mermithidae) infections among the larval population. A detailed study indicated that the inversion polymorphism in the natural population of C. ramosus was apparently being maintained as a result of the selective pressure exerted by the nematode parasite. The corresponding pattern of increase and decrease in genotype frequencies and the relative fitness values indicated a selective advantage of inversion heterozygotes (S/I) over both homozygous types (S/S and I/I). Both empirical and experimental data suggest the strong heterotic nature of adaptation in this C. ramosus population towards nematode infection. This is the first report of its kind where inversion polymorphism has been shown to be associated with nematode parasitism.

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In revised form: 18 August 2000

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Hardikar, A., Nath, B. Chromosomal polymorphism is associated with nematode parasitism in a natural population of a tropical midge. Chromosoma 110, 58–64 (2001).

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  • Salivary Gland
  • Natural Population
  • Selective Advantage
  • Nematode Parasitism
  • Relative Fitness