Natural Conditions Override Differences in Emergence Rhythm among Closely Related DrosophilidsReport as inadecuate

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Previous studies on adult emergence rhythm of Drosophila melanogaster DM done under semi-natural conditions have shown that emergence is correlated to daily changes in temperature, humidity and light at dawn. Recently we showed that under laboratory conditions D. ananassae DA, a closely related species of DM exhibits patterns in its activity-rest rhythm distinct from the latter. Here, we report the results of a study aimed at examining whether this difference in activity-rest rhythm among species extends to other circadian behaviours such as the adult emergence rhythm under a more natural environment with multiple cyclic time cues. We monitored the adult emergence rhythm of recently wild-caught DM and DA populations in parallel with those of a related species D. malerkotliana DK, both in the laboratory and under semi-natural conditions. We find that although DM, DK and DA showed marked difference from one another under laboratory conditions, such differences were not detectable in the emergence behaviour of these three species under semi-natural conditions, and that they respond very similarly to seasonal changes in the environment. The results suggest that seasonal changes in temperature and humidity contribute largely to the variation in adult emergence waveform in terms of gate width, phase and amplitude of the peak and day-to-day variance in the timing of the emergence peak. In all three species, seasons with cooler and wetter conditions make the rhythm less tightly gated, with low amplitude peak and high day-to-day variation in timing of the peak of emergence. We show that in nature the emergence rhythm of DM, DK and DA is strongly influenced by environmental factors such that in a given season all of them exhibit similar time course and waveform and that with the changing season, they all modify their emergence patterns in a similar manner.

Author: Priya M. Prabhakaran, Joydeep De, Vasu Sheeba



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