Conservation Genetics

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 453–465

Effects of inbreeding and environmental stress on fitness – using Drosophila buzzatii as a model organism

  • Torsten Nygaard Kristensen
  • Jesper Dahlgaard
  • Volkerr Loeschcke


Wild endangered populations can suffer fromadverse effects on fitness due to inbreedingand environmental stress. Often, both geneticand environmental stress factors may be presentin populations at the same time. Thereforeknowledge on the potential interactions betweenthese factors is important for the conservationof wild populations. When measuring fitness(e.g. survival and reproductive potential) ofindividuals in the laboratory, and in nature,inbreeding by environment interactions are nowbeing reported more often. The increased focuson environmental dependency of inbreedingdepression will therefore enable conservationbiologists to include this knowledge in themanagement of endangered populations in thewild. In this study, the effects ofenvironmental stress and inbreeding on fitnessare estimated in a laboratory population ofDrosophila buzzatii. Random- or full-sibmating were used to generate independentreplicate lines of four different inbreedinglevels (F = 0, F = 0.25, F = 0.50, F = 0.672)in four different environments. Theenvironments were thermal and dimethoate stressseparately and in combination, as well as anon-stressful control environment. Twoexperiments were carried out to measureproductivity (a multiplicative measure offecundity and viability) using a full factorialdesign. In the first experiment, productivitywas estimated for all lines and inbreedinglevels in the environment in which flies wereinbred and reared for several generations. Inthe second experiment, productivity of thelines reared in the control environment wastested in all four environments and for allinbreeding levels. Our results show asignificant effect of inbreeding andenvironmental stress on productivity in bothexperiments and the effect increased when flieswere exposed to novel environmental conditions.Productivity was not affected by theinteraction between inbreeding andenvironmental stress when flies were tested inthe environments in which they were reared,whereas there was a tendency towards a stressby inbreeding interaction when flies wereexposed to novel environments. The variance andthe coefficient of variation in productivitywere each affected by environmental stress andinbreeding, indicating that environmentalconditions as well as genetic background areimportant for variation in productivity.However, the two measures of variation oftenshowed opposite trends. The results obtained inthis study indicate that the environmentalconditions under which inbreeding occurs areimportant. This is relevant for the maintenanceand management of populations in captivity andin relation to reintroduction of endangeredspecies in nature.

adaptation Drosophila buzzatii environmental stress genotype-environment interaction inbreeding depression model organisms novel environments phenotypic variation productivity purging 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Torsten Nygaard Kristensen
    • 1
  • Jesper Dahlgaard
    • 1
    • 3
  • Volkerr Loeschcke
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and GeneticsUniversity of Aarhus, Building 540, Ny MunkegadeAarhus CDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Animal Breeding and GeneticsDanish Institute of Agricultural SciencesTjeleDenmark
  3. 3.Human MicroArray Centre, Department of Clinical Biochemistry and GeneticsOdense University HospitalOdense CDenmark

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