The molecular through ecological genetics of abnormal abdomen in Drosophila mercatorum. V. Female phenotypic expression on natural genetic backgrounds and in natural environments.
A R Templeton, H Hollocher, J S Johnston

Abstract

The abnormal abdomen (aa) syndrome in Drosophila mercatorum depends on the presence of R1 inserts in a third or more of the X-linked 28S rDNA genes and the absence of selective underreplication of inserted repeats in polytene tissues that is controlled by an X-linked locus (ur) half a map unit from the rDNA complex. This syndrome affects both life history and morphology in the laboratory. Because abnormal morphologies are rarely encountered in nature, the purpose of this study is to see if the female life history traits are still affected under more natural genetic backgrounds and environmental conditions. Two outbred stocks were extracted from the natural population living near Kamuela, Hawaii: KaaX that has only X chromosomes with uraa alleles, and K+X that has only ur+ alleles. These two stocks have nonoverlapping distributions of insert proportions, indicating strong disequilibrium between the ur locus and the rDNA complex. The KaaX stock had almost no morphological penetrance of uraa, indicating that genetic background is important. KaaX expressed longer female egg-to-adult developmental times, increased early adult female fecundity, and decreased female adult longevity compared with K+X. By bagging natural rots of the cactus Opuntia megacantha near Kamuela, Hawaii, it was shown that egg-to-adult developmental time is slowed down by 0.92 days in females bearing uraa alleles in nature, with no detectable slowdown in uraa males. The bagged rot data also indicate that females bearing uraa alleles have a strong fecundity advantage in nature under some ecological conditions but not others.