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Indirect selection of thermal tolerance during experimental evolution of Drosophila melanogaster

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Natural selection alters the distribution of a trait in a population and indirectly alters the distribution of genetically correlated traits. Long-standing models of thermal adaptation assume that trade-offs exist between

Natural selection alters the distribution of a trait in a population and indirectly alters the distribution of genetically correlated traits. Long-standing models of thermal adaptation assume that trade-offs exist between fitness at different temperatures; however, experimental evolution often fails to reveal such trade-offs. Here, we show that adaptation to benign temperatures in experimental populations of Drosophila melanogaster resulted in correlated responses at the boundaries of the thermal niche. Specifically, adaptation to fluctuating temperatures (16–25°C) decreased tolerance of extreme heat. Surprisingly, flies adapted to a constant temperature of 25°C had greater cold tolerance than did flies adapted to other thermal conditions, including a constant temperature of 16°C. As our populations were never exposed to extreme temperatures during selection, divergence of thermal tolerance likely reflects indirect selection of standing genetic variation via linkage or pleiotropy. We found no relationship between heat and cold tolerances in these populations. Our results show that the thermal niche evolves by direct and indirect selection, in ways that are more complicated than assumed by theoretical models.

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  • 2015-04-12

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Flies evolved small bodies and cells at high or fluctuating temperatures

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Recent theory predicts that the sizes of cells will evolve according to fluctuations in body temperature. Smaller cells speed metabolism during periods of warming but require more energy to maintain

Recent theory predicts that the sizes of cells will evolve according to fluctuations in body temperature. Smaller cells speed metabolism during periods of warming but require more energy to maintain and repair. To evaluate this theory, we studied the evolution of cell size in populations of Drosophila melanogaster held at either a constant temperature (16°C or 25°C) or fluctuating temperatures (16 and 25°C). Populations that evolved at fluctuating temperatures or a constant 25°C developed smaller thoraxes, wings, and cells than did flies exposed to a constant 16°C. The cells of flies from fluctuating environments were intermediate in size to those of flies from constant environments. Most genetic variation in cell size was independent of variation in wing size, suggesting that cell size was a target of selection. These evolutionary patterns accord with patterns of developmental plasticity documented previously. Future studies should focus on the mechanisms that underlie the selective advantage of small cells at high or fluctuating temperatures.

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Date Created
  • 2016-10-12