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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1977 Jan;74(1):387-91.

Extension of longevity in Drosophila mojavensis by environmental ethanol: differences between subraces.


Drosophila mojavensis adults, which breed and feed on necrotic cacti, show an increase in longevity when exposed to atmospheric ethanol. The increase in longevity is accompanied by retention of mature ovarioles and is independent of diet. Differences in longevity among strains from different localities were detected for females. Strains from Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, showed the greatest increase in longevity, while strains from Baja California, Mexico, showed the least increase. These differences may be controlled by the alcohol dehydrogenase locus, the octanol dehydrogenase locus, and modifier genes, because the aduld response is correlated with the frequency of alcohol dehydrogenase alleles, as well as second chromosomal inversions containing the octanol dehydrogenase locus. The longevity response is also consistent with the more uneven distribution and availability of the host plant in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. Strains from Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, have a high frequency of Adh-S, the allele whose product is heat and pH tolerant. The host plant, organpipe cactus, exhibits extremes in temperature and pH in the same geographic region. Strains from Baja California, Mexico, possess a high frequency of Adh-F, whose product is heat and pH sensitive. The substrate in this region, agria cactus, has moderate temperature and pH extremes and contains relatively high concentrations of isopropanol. Isopropanol is presumable a selective agen favorable to Adh-F. The environmental heterogeneity that is proposed for maintaining the alleles at the alcohol dehydrogenase locus is the interaction of substrate alcohol content with temperature and pH. Substrates that do not contain appreciable amounts of isopropanol and are exposed to high temperatures and exhibit variable pH favor Adh-S, while substrates containing isopropanol and having moderate temperatures and pH favor Adh-F.

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