Quantitative variation of four morphological traits in Drosophila melanogaster under larval crowding

Hereditas. 2003;138(3):193-9. doi: 10.1034/j.1601-5223.2003.01727.x.


Effects of three different larval densities (low, intermediate and high) on phenotypic and genetic variation of four morphological traits (thorax and wing length, sternopleural and abdominal bristle number) were studied in Drosophila melanogaster using the isofemale line technique. Phenotypic variation was found to increase at high larval density in all traits examined. Environmental variance for three traits (exception was sternopleural bristle number) and fluctuating asymmetry for both bilateral traits were also increased under high density conditions. For estimates of genetic variability (among isofemale lines variance, heritability and evolvability), no statistically significant differences among density regimes were detected. However, the trends in changes of these estimates across densities indicated a possibility for enhanced genetic variation under larval crowding for all traits except abdominal bristle number. For the latter trait, genetic variation seemed not to be dependent on density regime. Generally, two metric traits (thorax and wing length) were more affected by larval crowding than two meristic ones (sternopleural and abdominal bristle number). The Results are in complete agreement with those previously obtained for D. melanogaster using extreme temperatures as stress-factors.

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / anatomy & histology
  • Animals
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Larva
  • Phenotype
  • Population Density
  • Thorax / anatomy & histology
  • Wings, Animal / anatomy & histology