Thermal sensitivity of Drosophila melanogaster: evolutionary responses of adults and eggs to laboratory natural selection at different temperatures

Physiol Zool. Jul-Aug 1997;70(4):403-14. doi: 10.1086/515853.


We compared aspects of the thermal sensitivity of replicated lines of Drosophila melanogaster that had been evolving by laboratory natural selection at three selection temperatures: 16.5 degrees C (10+ yr), 25 degrees C (9+ yr), or 29 degrees C (4+ yr). The 16.5 degrees C and 25 degrees C lines are known to have diverged in fitness at 16.5 degrees C versus 25 degrees C and also in heat tolerance. We designed new experiments to explore further possible shifts in thermal sensitivity of these lines. The optimal temperature for walking speed of adults was positively related to selection temperature, but differences among lines in thermal sensitivity of walking speed were small. Performance breath was inversely related to selection temperature. Tolerance of adults to an acute heat shock was also positively related to selection temperature, but tolerance to a cold shock was not. Thus, fitness at moderately high temperatures is genetically coupled with tolerance of extreme high (but not of low) temperature. Knock-down temperature and walking speed at high temperature, however, were independent of selection temperature. In contrast to adults, eggs from different lines had similar heat and cold tolerance. Thus, long-term natural selection has led to divergence in thermal sensitivity of some (but not of all) traits and may have had more of an impact on adults than on eggs. Attempts to predict evolutionary states in nature are, however, complicated because of the observed genetic correlations and the simple selection scheme.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological* / genetics
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Cold Temperature / adverse effects
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology
  • Heat-Shock Response / genetics
  • Heat-Shock Response / physiology
  • Locomotion / genetics
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Ovum / physiology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Temperature*