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Genetics. Apr 2004; 166(4): 1807–1823.
PMCID: PMC1470806

Quantitative trait loci affecting starvation resistance in Drosophila melanogaster.


The ability to withstand periods of scarce food resources is an important fitness trait. Starvation resistance is a quantitative trait controlled by multiple interacting genes and exhibits considerable genetic variation in natural populations. This genetic variation could be maintained in the face of strong selection due to a trade-off in resource allocation between reproductive activity and individual survival. Knowledge of the genes affecting starvation tolerance and the subset of genes that affect variation in starvation resistance in natural populations would enable us to evaluate this hypothesis from a quantitative genetic perspective. We screened 933 co-isogenic P-element insertion lines to identify candidate genes affecting starvation tolerance. A total of 383 P-element insertions induced highly significant and often sex-specific mutational variance in starvation resistance. We also used deficiency complementation mapping followed by complementation to mutations to identify 12 genes contributing to variation in starvation resistance between two wild-type strains. The genes we identified are involved in oogenesis, metabolism, and feeding behaviors, indicating a possible link to reproduction and survival. However, we also found genes with cell fate specification and cell proliferation phenotypes, which implies that resource allocation during development and at the cellular level may also influence the phenotypic response to starvation.

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