Genetic Architecture of Micro-Environmental Plasticity in Drosophila melanogaster

Sci Rep. 2015 May 6;5:9785. doi: 10.1038/srep09785.


Individuals of the same genotype do not have the same phenotype for quantitative traits when reared under common macro-environmental conditions, a phenomenon called micro-environmental plasticity. Genetic variation in micro-environmental plasticity is assumed in models of the evolution of phenotypic variance, and is important in applied breeding and personalized medicine. Here, we quantified genetic variation for micro-environmental plasticity for three quantitative traits in the inbred, sequenced lines of the Drosophila melanogaster Genetic Reference Panel. We found substantial genetic variation for micro-environmental plasticity for all traits, with broad sense heritabilities of the same magnitude or greater than those of trait means. Micro-environmental plasticity is not correlated with residual segregating variation, is trait-specific, and has genetic correlations with trait means ranging from zero to near unity. We identified several candidate genes associated with micro-environmental plasticity of startle response, including Drosophila Hsp90, setting the stage for future genetic dissection of this phenomenon.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Cell Plasticity / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Ecosystem
  • Gene-Environment Interaction*
  • Genetic Fitness / genetics
  • Quantitative Trait Loci / genetics*


  • Drosophila Proteins