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Fly (Austin). 2008 May-Jun;2(3):111-7. Epub 2008 May 29.

Climatic adaptations of body melanisation in Drosophila melanogaster from Western Himalayas.

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Department of Biochemistry and Genetics, Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak, India.


We investigated population divergence in body melanisation in wild samples of Drosophila melanogaster across an elevational gradient (512-2202 m) in the Western Himalayas. Wild populations are characterized by higher phenotypic variability as compared with laboratory populations. Significant differences in elevational slope values for three posterior abdominal segments (fifth, sixth and seventh) in wild versus laboratory populations suggest plastic effects. However, elevational slope values do not differ for the three anterior abdominal segments (second, third and fourth). Thus, elevational changes in melanisation include genetic as well as plastic effects. Fitness consequences of within population variability were analyzed on the basis of assorted darker and lighter flies from two highlands as well as from two lowland localities. There is lack of correlation of melanisation with body size as well as ovariole number in assorted darker and lighter flies. For each population, darker flies showed higher desiccation resistance, lower rate of water loss, longer copulation duration and greater fecundity as compared with lighter flies. Phenotypic variations in body melanisation can be interpreted in relation with seasonal changes in temperature as well as humidity (Tcv and RHcv) of the sites of origin of populations. Thus, elevational changes in body melanisation may represent genetic response to selection pressures imposed by colder and drier climatic conditions in the Western Himalayas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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