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Epistasis and maternal effects in experimental adaptation to chronic nutritional stress in Drosophila.
Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Based on ecological and metabolic arguments, some authors predict that adaptation to novel, harsh environments should involve alleles showing negative (diminishing return) epistasis and/or that it should be mediated in part by evolution of maternal effects. Although the first prediction has been supported in microbes, there has been little experimental support for either prediction in multicellular eukaryotes. Here we use a line-cross design to study the genetic architecture of adaptation to chronic larval malnutrition in a population of Drosophila melanogaster that evolved on an extremely nutrient-poor larval food for 84 generations. We assayed three fitness-related traits (developmental rate, adult female weight and egg-to-adult viability) under the malnutrition conditions in 14 crosses between this selected population and a nonadapted control population originally derived from the same base population. All traits showed a pattern of negative epistasis between alleles improving performance under malnutrition. Furthermore, evolutionary changes in maternal traits accounted for half of the 68% increase in viability and for the whole of 8% reduction in adult female body weight in the selected population (relative to unselected controls). These results thus support both of the above predictions and point to the importance of nonadditive effects in adaptive microevolution.
epistasis, experimental evolution, genetic architecture, line-cross analysis, malnutrition, maternal effect
Web of science
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