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J Exp Biol. 1997 Feb;200(Pt 3):615-24.

CO2 release patterns in Drosophila melanogaster: the effect of selection for desiccation resistance.

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


We used laboratory natural selection on insects as a means of investigating the role of patterns of gas exchange in desiccation resistance. We used 15 populations of Drosophila melanogaster: five selected for desiccation resistance, five control populations and five ancestral populations. Using flow-through respirometry, we found that D. melanogaster from all populations produced irregular peaks of CO2 release. To quantify the height and frequency of these peaks, we used the standard error of a linear regression (SER) through the recordings of CO2 release. The values for the SER were significantly larger in the populations selected for desiccation resistance than in the control and ancestral populations. Occasionally, highly periodic peaks of CO2 release were observed in the desiccation-resistant populations only. Maximum SER was found to be strongly correlated with survival time in dry air among selection treatments, but not among individuals within a population. Access to dietary water resulted in lower SER values. These data demonstrate that gas exchange is physiologically controlled in Drosophila melanogaster and that the pattern of gas exchange can change under selection. The relationship between these CO2 release patterns and classic discontinuous ventilation is discussed.

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