Dissection of Complex, Fitness-Related Traits in Multiple Drosophila Mapping Populations Offers Insight into the Genetic Control of Stress Resistance

Genetics. 2019 Apr;211(4):1449-1467. doi: 10.1534/genetics.119.301930. Epub 2019 Feb 13.


We leverage two complementary Drosophila melanogaster mapping panels to genetically dissect starvation resistance-an important fitness trait. Using >1600 genotypes from the multiparental Drosophila Synthetic Population Resource (DSPR), we map numerous starvation stress QTL that collectively explain a substantial fraction of trait heritability. Mapped QTL effects allowed us to estimate DSPR founder phenotypes, predictions that were correlated with the actual phenotypes of these lines. We observe a modest phenotypic correlation between starvation resistance and triglyceride level, traits that have been linked in previous studies. However, overlap among QTL identified for each trait is low. Since we also show that DSPR strains with extreme starvation phenotypes differ in desiccation resistance and activity level, our data imply multiple physiological mechanisms contribute to starvation variability. We additionally exploited the Drosophila Genetic Reference Panel (DGRP) to identify sequence variants associated with starvation resistance. Consistent with prior work these sites rarely fall within QTL intervals mapped in the DSPR. We were offered a unique opportunity to directly compare association mapping results across laboratories since two other groups previously measured starvation resistance in the DGRP. We found strong phenotypic correlations among studies, but extremely low overlap in the sets of genomewide significant sites. Despite this, our analyses revealed that the most highly associated variants from each study typically showed the same additive effect sign in independent studies, in contrast to otherwise equivalent sets of random variants. This consistency provides evidence for reproducible trait-associated sites in a widely used mapping panel, and highlights the polygenic nature of starvation resistance.

Keywords: DGRP; DSPR; MPP; Multiparent Advanced Generation Inter-Cross (MAGIC); multiparental populations; starvation resistance; triglyceride level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Genetic Fitness*
  • Genome, Insect
  • Genome-Wide Association Study / methods
  • Genome-Wide Association Study / standards
  • Multifactorial Inheritance*
  • Quantitative Trait Loci*
  • Quantitative Trait, Heritable*
  • Starvation / genetics
  • Stress, Physiological / genetics*

Associated data

  • figshare/10.25386/genetics.7713173