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Heredity (Edinb). 2011 Apr;106(4):592-602. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2010.90. Epub 2010 Jul 7.

Local adaptation for body color in Drosophila americana.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.


Pigmentation is one of the most variable traits within and between Drosophila species. Much of this diversity appears to be adaptive, with environmental factors often invoked as selective forces. Here, we describe the geographic structure of pigmentation in Drosophila americana and evaluate the hypothesis that it is a locally adapted trait. Body pigmentation was quantified using digital images and spectrometry in up to 10 flies from each of 93 isofemale lines collected from 17 locations across the United States and found to correlate most strongly with longitude. Sequence variation at putatively neutral loci showed no evidence of population structure and was inconsistent with an isolation-by-distance model, suggesting that the pigmentation cline exists despite extensive gene flow throughout the species range, and is most likely the product of natural selection. In all other Drosophila species examined to date, dark pigmentation is associated with arid habitats; however, in D. americana, the darkest flies were collected from the most humid regions. To investigate this relationship further, we examined desiccation resistance attributable to an allele that darkens pigmentation in D. americana. We found no significant effect of pigmentation on desiccation resistance in this experiment, suggesting that pigmentation and desiccation resistance are not unequivocally linked in all Drosophila species.

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