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Genetics. 1988 Jun;119(2):421-33.

Quantitative Genetics of Drosophila Melanogaster. II. Heritabilities and Genetic Correlations between Sexes for Head and Thorax Traits.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7614.


A quantitative genetic analysis is reported for traits on the head and thorax of adult fruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster. Females are larger than males, and the magnitude of sexual dimorphism is similar for traits derived from the same imaginal disc, but the level of sexual dimorphism varies widely across discs. The greatest difference between males and females occurs for the dimensions of the sclerotized mouthparts of the proboscis. Most of the traits studied are highly heritable with heritabilities ranging from 0.26 to 0.84 for males and 0.27 to 0.81 for females. In general, heritabilities are slightly higher for males, possibly reflecting the effect of dosage compensation on X-linked variance. The X chromosome contributes substantially to variance for many of these traits, and including results reported elsewhere, the variance for over two-thirds of the traits studied includes X-linked variance. The genetic correlations between sexes for the same trait are generally high and close to unity. Coupled with the small differences in the traits between sexes for heritabilities and phenotypic variances, these results suggest that selection would be very slow to change the level of sexual dimorphism in size of various body parts.

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