Oxygen changes drive non-uniform scaling in Drosophila melanogaster embryogenesis

F1000Res. 2015 Oct 23;4:1102. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.7221.1. eCollection 2015.


We previously demonstrated that, while changes in temperature produce dramatic shifts in the time elapsed during Drosophila melanogaster embryogenesis, the relative timing of events within embryogenesis does not change. However, it was unclear if this uniform scaling is an intrinsic property of developing embryos, or if it is specific to thermal fluctuations. To investigate this, here we characterize the embryonic response to changes in oxygen concentration, which also impact developmental rate, using time-lapse imaging, and find it fundamentally different from the temperature response. Most notably, changes in oxygen levels drive developmental heterochrony, with the timing of several morphological processes showing distinct scaling behaviors. Gut formation is severely slowed by decreases in oxygen, while head involution and syncytial development are less impacted than the rest of development, and the order of several developmental landmarks is inverted at different oxygen levels. These data reveal that the uniform scaling seen with changes in temperature is not a trivial consequence of adjusting developmental rate. The developmental rate changes produced by changing oxygen concentrations dwarf those induced by temperature, and greatly impact survival. While extreme temperatures increase early embryo mortality, mild hypoxia increases arrest and death during mid-embryogenesis and mild hyperoxia increases survival over normoxia.

Keywords: Drosophila; development; embryo; hyperoxia; hypoxia; oxygen; temperature; time-lapse.