Identification of a candidate adaptive polymorphism for Drosophila life history by parallel independent clines on two continents

Mol Ecol. 2010 Feb;19(4):760-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2009.04508.x. Epub 2010 Jan 14.


Life history traits are critical components of fitness and frequently reflect adaptive responses to environmental pressures. However, few genes that contribute to natural life history variation have been identified. Insulin signalling mediates the determination of life history traits in many organisms, and single gene manipulation in Drosophila melanogaster suggests that individual genes in the pathway have the potential to produce major effects on these quantitative traits. We evaluated allelic variation at two insulin signalling genes, the Insulin-like Receptor (InR) and its substrate, chico, in natural populations of D. melanogaster. We found different patterns of variation: InR shows evidence of positive selection and clines in allele frequency across latitude; chico exhibits neutral patterns of evolution. The clinal patterns at InR are replicated between North America and Australia, showing striking similarity in the distribution of specific alleles and the rate at which allele frequencies change across latitude. Moreover, we identified a polymorphism at InR that appears to be functionally significant and consistent with hypothetical patterns of selection across geography. This polymorphism provides new characterization of genic regions of functionality within InR, and is likely a component in a suite of genes and traits that respond adaptively to climatic variation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics*
  • Alleles
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Australia
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genes, Insect
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Geography
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • North America
  • Phenotype
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics*
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • InR protein, Drosophila
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases