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Genetics. 1997 Jul;146(3):881-90.

Genetic and environmental responses to temperature of Drosophila melanogaster from a latitudinal cline.

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Department of Biology, Galton Laboratory, University College London, United Kingdom.


Field-collected Drosophila melanogaster from 19 populations in Eastern Australia were measured for body size traits, and the measurements were compared with similar ones on flies from the same populations reared under standard laboratory conditions. Wild caught flies were smaller, and latitudinal trends in size were greater. Reduced size was caused by fewer cells in the wing, and the steeper cline by greater variation in cell area. The reduction in size in field-collected flies may therefore have been caused by reduced nutrition, and the steeper cline may have been caused by an environmental response to latitudinal variation in temperature. No evidence was found for evolution of size traits in response to laboratory culture. The magnitude of phenotypic plasticity in response to temperature of development time, body size, cell size and cell number was examined for six of the populations, to test for latitudinal variation in plasticity. All characters were plastic in response to temperature. Total development time showed no significant latitudinal variation in plasticity, although larval development time showed a marginally significant effect, with most latitudinal variation at intermediate rearing temperatures. Neither thorax length nor wing size and its cellular components showed significant latitudinal variation in plasticity.

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