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Heredity (Edinb). 2002 Apr;88(4):307-12.

Temperature and genotypic effects on life history and fluctuating asymmetry in a field strain of Culex pipiens.

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  • 1Division of Zoology, School of Animal and Microbial Sciences, The University of Reading, Whiteknights PO Box 228, Reading RG6 6AJ, UK.


Fluctuating asymmetry (FA) has been proposed as a tool to measure levels of stress experienced by populations of organisms during development. To be of value as a bio-marker to highlight conditions at particular sites, it is important that variation in FA is due to environmental (eg pollution) variation and not genetic variation among populations and families, in other words heritability for FA should be very close to zero. A full-sib design was set up in which families of Culex pipiens mosquitoes collected from the field were reared at three different developmental temperatures. The effects of temperature and family on developmental rate, egg to adult survival and four wing morphological measures were assessed. There was both a temperature and a family effect on development rate and survival. Temperature affected all four wing traits, but an influence of family was only evident in two of the wing traits. Two separate measures of FA for each of the wing traits were obtained. The mean estimates of FA were mainly around 1% of the value of the character measured. There was evidence of an increase in FA with increase in temperature stress. Heritability was estimated for the wing traits and wing trait FA's using restricted estimation maximum likelihood. The estimates of heritability for the wing traits were small and, individually, did not differ significantly from zero. There was also no evidence of heritable genetic variation for any of the wing trait FA's. The results are discussed in relation to other studies where FA heritabilities have been estimated and in relation to the use of FA as an indicator of environmental stress.

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