Identifying candidate genes affecting developmental time in Drosophila melanogaster: pervasive pleiotropy and gene-by-environment interactionReportar como inadecuado

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BMC Developmental Biology

, 8:78

First Online: 08 August 2008Received: 29 February 2008Accepted: 08 August 2008


BackgroundUnderstanding the genetic architecture of ecologically relevant adaptive traits requires the contribution of developmental and evolutionary biology. The time to reach the age of reproduction is a complex life history trait commonly known as developmental time. In particular, in holometabolous insects that occupy ephemeral habitats, like fruit flies, the impact of developmental time on fitness is further exaggerated. The present work is one of the first systematic studies of the genetic basis of developmental time, in which we also evaluate the impact of environmental variation on the expression of the trait.

ResultsWe analyzed 179 co-isogenic single PGT1-element insertion lines of Drosophila melanogaster to identify novel genes affecting developmental time in flies reared at 25°C. Sixty percent of the lines showed a heterochronic phenotype, suggesting that a large number of genes affect this trait. Mutant lines for the genes Merlin and Karl showed the most extreme phenotypes exhibiting a developmental time reduction and increase, respectively, of over 2 days and 4 days relative to the control a co-isogenic P-element insertion free line. In addition, a subset of 42 lines selected at random from the initial set of 179 lines was screened at 17°C. Interestingly, the gene-by-environment interaction accounted for 52% of total phenotypic variance. Plastic reaction norms were found for a large number of developmental time candidate genes.

ConclusionWe identified components of several integrated time-dependent pathways affecting egg-to-adult developmental time in Drosophila. At the same time, we also show that many heterochronic phenotypes may arise from changes in genes involved in several developmental mechanisms that do not explicitly control the timing of specific events. We also demonstrate that many developmental time genes have pleiotropic effects on several adult traits and that the action of most of them is sensitive to temperature during development. Taken together, our results stress the need to take into account the effect of environmental variation and the dynamics of gene interactions on the genetic architecture of this complex life-history trait.

AbbreviationsDTdevelopmental time

ANOVAanalysis of variance


Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1471-213X-8-78 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Autor: Julián Mensch - Nicolás Lavagnino - Valeria Paula Carreira - Ana Massaldi - Esteban Hasson - Juan José Fanara


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