Selection in heterogeneous environments maintains the gene arrangement polymorphism of Drosophila pseudoobscura

Evolution. 2008 Dec;62(12):3082-99. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2008.00504.x. Epub 2008 Sep 1.


Chromosomal rearrangements may play an important role in how populations adapt to a local environment. The gene arrangement polymorphism on the third chromosome of Drosophila pseudoobscura is a model system to help determine the role that inversions play in the evolution of this species. The gene arrangements are the likely target of strong selection because they form classical clines across diverse geographic habitats, they cycle in frequency over seasons, and they form stable equilibria in population cages. A numerical approach was developed to estimate the fitness sets for 15 gene arrangement karyotypes in six niches based on a model of selection-migration balance. Gene arrangement frequencies in the six different niches were able to reach a stable meta-population equilibrium that matched the observed gene arrangement frequencies when recursions used the estimated fitnesses with a variety of initial inversion frequencies. These analyses show that a complex pattern of selection is operating in the six niches to maintain the D. pseudoobscura gene arrangement polymorphism. Models of local adaptation predict that the new inversion mutations were able to invade populations because they held combinations of two to 13 local adaptation loci together.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Climate
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Environment*
  • Gene Rearrangement / genetics*
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Karyotyping
  • Models, Genetic
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Southwestern United States