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Genetics. Mar 1994; 136(3): 937–951.
PMCID: PMC1205898

Polygenic Mutation in Drosophila Melanogaster: Estimates from Response to Selection of Inbred Strains


Replicated divergent artificial selection for abdominal and sternopleural bristle number from a highly inbred strain of Drosophila melanogaster resulted in an average divergence after 125 generations of selection of 12.0 abdominal and 8.2 sternopleural bristles from the accumulation of new mutations affecting bristle number. Responses to selection were highly asymmetrical, with greater responses for low abdominal and high sternopleural bristle numbers. Estimates of V(M), the mutational variance arising per generation, based on the infinitesimal model and averaged over the responses to the first 25 generations of selection, were 4.32 X 10(-3) V(E) for abdominal bristle number and 3.66 X 10(-3) V(E) for sternopleural bristle number, where V(E) is the environmental variance. Based on 10 generations of divergent selection within lines from generation 93, V(M) for abdominal bristle number was 6.75 X 10(-3) V(E) and for sternopleural bristle number was 5.31 X 10(-3) V(E). However, estimates of V(M) using the entire 125 generations of response to selection were lower and generally did not fit the infinitesimal model largely because the observed decelerating responses were not compatible with the predicted increasing genetic variance over time. These decelerating responses, periods of response in the opposite direction to artificial selection, and rapid responses to reverse selection all suggest new mutations affecting bristle number on average have deleterious effects on fitness. Commonly observed periods of accelerated responses followed by long periods of stasis suggest a leptokurtic distribution of mutational effects for bristles.

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