Quantitative trait loci for thermotolerance phenotypes in Drosophila melanogaster

Heredity (Edinb). 2006 Mar;96(3):232-42. doi: 10.1038/sj.hdy.6800786.


For insects, temperature is a major environmental variable that can influence an individual's behavioral activities and fitness. Drosophila melanogaster is a cosmopolitan species that has had great success in adapting to and colonizing diverse thermal niches. This adaptation and colonization has resulted in complex patterns of genetic variation in thermotolerance phenotypes in nature. Although extensive work has been conducted documenting patterns of genetic variation, substantially less is known about the genomic regions or genes that underlie this ecologically and evolutionarily important genetic variation. To begin to understand and identify the genes controlling thermotolerance phenotypes, we have used a mapping population of recombinant inbred (RI) lines to map quantitative trait loci (QTL) that affect variation in both heat- and cold-stress resistance. The mapping population was derived from a cross between two lines of D. melanogaster (Oregon-R and 2b) that were not selected for thermotolerance phenotypes, but exhibit significant genetic divergence for both phenotypes. Using a design in which each RI line was backcrossed to both parental lines, we mapped seven QTL affecting thermotolerance on the second and third chromosomes. Three of the QTL influence cold-stress resistance and four affect heat-stress resistance. Most of the QTL were trait or sex specific, suggesting that overlapping but generally unique genetic architectures underlie resistance to low- and high-temperature extremes. Each QTL explained between 5 and 14% of the genetic variance among lines, and degrees of dominance ranged from completely additive to partial dominance. Potential thermotolerance candidate loci contained within our QTL regions are identified and discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Phenotype
  • Quantitative Trait Loci*