Genetic architecture of natural variation in cuticular hydrocarbon composition in Drosophila melanogaster

Elife. 2015 Nov 14;4:e09861. doi: 10.7554/eLife.09861.


Insect cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) prevent desiccation and serve as chemical signals that mediate social interactions. Drosophila melanogaster CHCs have been studied extensively, but the genetic basis for individual variation in CHC composition is largely unknown. We quantified variation in CHC profiles in the D. melanogaster Genetic Reference Panel (DGRP) and identified novel CHCs. We used principal component (PC) analysis to extract PCs that explain the majority of CHC variation and identified polymorphisms in or near 305 and 173 genes in females and males, respectively, associated with variation in these PCs. In addition, 17 DGRP lines contain the functional Desat2 allele characteristic of African and Caribbean D. melanogaster females (more 5,9-C27:2 and less 7,11-C27:2, female sex pheromone isomers). Disruption of expression of 24 candidate genes affected CHC composition in at least one sex. These genes are associated with fatty acid metabolism and represent mechanistic targets for individual variation in CHC composition.

Keywords: African Drosophila; Drosophila genetic reference Panel; cuticular lipids; drosophila melanogaster; evolutionary biology; genome wide associaiton study; genomics; multivariate analysis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Animals
  • Caribbean Region
  • Drosophila melanogaster / chemistry*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Hydrocarbons / analysis
  • Hydrocarbons / metabolism*
  • Integumentary System
  • Male
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways / genetics*


  • Hydrocarbons