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Genetics. 2008 Sep;180(1):567-82. doi: 10.1534/genetics.108.088906. Epub 2008 Aug 20.

Quantitative trait loci affecting phenotypic plasticity and the allometric relationship of ovariole number and thorax length in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA.


Environmental factors during juvenile growth such as temperature and nutrition have major effects on adult morphology and life-history traits. In Drosophila melanogaster, ovary size, measured as ovariole number, and body size, measured as thorax length, are developmentally plastic traits with respect to larval nutrition. Herein we investigated the genetic basis for plasticity of ovariole number and body size, as well the genetic basis for their allometric relationship using recombinant inbred lines (RILs) derived from a natural population in Winters, California. We reared 196 RILs in four yeast concentrations and measured ovariole number and body size. The genetic correlation between ovariole number and thorax length was positive, but the strength of this correlation decreased with increasing yeast concentration. Genetic variation and genotype-by-environment (G x E) interactions were observed for both traits. We identified quantitative trait loci (QTL), epistatic, QTL-by-environment, and epistatic-by-environment interactions for both traits and their scaling relationships. The results are discussed in the context of multivariate trait evolution.

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