Selection for starvation resistance in Drosophila melanogaster : physiological correlates, enzyme activities and multiple stress responses


Lawrence G. Harshman School of Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588, USA. Tel: 402 472 0680; fax: 402 472 2083; e-mail:


Correlated responses to artificial selection for stress tolerance can provide insight into underlying genetic variation and the physiological basis of stress resistance. Lines of Drosophila melanogaster held in the absence of food or with an unsuitable resource, specifically decomposing lemon, responded to selection by becoming starvation resistant. The lemon-selected lines also adapted by evolving a resource-based induction response. Compared to control lines, the selected lines tended to store more lipid, develop slower and have a larger body size. Additional responses included resistance to desiccation and acetone fumes, suggesting multiple stress resistance is a correlated result of selection for starvation resistance. The specific metabolic rate was lower in the starvation selected lines and enzyme activities changed in response to selection. In particular, enzyme activities indirectly associated with lipid biogenesis increased in both types of selected lines. The correlated responses to the two selection regimes were sufficiently consistent to indicate a common basis for starvation resistance. Specific responses to starvation selection appeared to oppose the short-term phenotypic responses to starvation. Thus, a common response to stress selection may be to ameliorate the immediate physiological impact of the stress factor.