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Evolution. 2003 Mar;57(3):527-35.

Breakdown in correlations during laboratory evolution. I. Comparative analyses of Drosophila populations.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine, California 92697, USA.


We provide evidence from comparisons of populations of Drosophila that evolutionary correlations between longevity and stress resistance break down over the course of laboratory evolution. Using 15 distinct evolutionary regimes, we created 75 populations that were differentiated for early fecundity, longevity, starvation resistance, desiccation resistance, and developmental time. In earlier experiments, selection for postponed aging produced increases in stress resistance, whereas selection for increased stress resistance produced increases in longevity. Direct estimates of correlations also indicated an antagonistic relationship between early fecundity on one hand and longevity or stress resistance on the other. Laboratory evolution of extreme values of stress resistance, however, led to a breakdown in these evolutionary relationships. There was no evidence that these significant changes in correlation resulted from genotype-by-environment interactions or inbreeding. These findings suggest that correlations between functional characters are not necessarily durable features of a species, and that short-term evolutionary responses cannot be extrapolated reliably to longer-term evolutionary patterns.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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