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Genome. 2006 Jul;49(7):777-85.

Fluctuating asymmetry in certain morphological traits in laboratory populations of Drosophila ananassae.

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Genetics Laboratory, Department of Zoology, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India.


Fluctuating asymmetry (FA, subtle random deviations from perfect bilateral symmetry) is often used as a measure of developmental instability (DI), which results from perturbations in developmental pathways caused by genetic or environmental stressors. During the present study, we estimated FA in 5 morphological traits, viz. wing length (WL), wing to thorax ratio (W:T), sternopleural bristle number (SBN), sex-comb tooth number (SCTN), and ovariole number (ON) in 18 laboratory populations of Drosophila ananassae. FA levels of measured traits differed significantly among populations except for SBN (in males and females) and W:T ratio (in females). Positional fluctuating asymmetry (PFA), a sensitive measure of DI, also varied significantly among the populations for SBN in females and SCTN in males. Interestingly, both males and females were similar for nonsexual traits. However, when FA across all traits (sexual and nonsexual) was combined into a single composite index (CFA), significant differences were found for both populations and sexes. Males showed higher CFA values than females, suggesting that males are more prone to developmental perturbations. The magnitude of FA differed significantly among traits, being lowest for nonsexual traits (SBN, WL, W:T ratio) and highest for sexual traits (SCTN and ON). The trait size of sexual traits (SCTN and ON) was positively correlated with their asymmetry. The possible reasons for variation in FA both among traits and among populations, and the usefulness of FA as an indicator of developmental stress and phenotypic quality in D. ananassae are discussed.

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