Temperature and clinal variation in larval growth efficiency in Drosophila melanogaster


S. J. W.Robinson, Department of Biology, University College London, Galton Laboratory, Wolfson House, 4 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HE, UK. Tel.: +44 20 76797423; fax: 020 73832048; e-mail: s.robinson@ucl.ac.uk


Geographic clines in ectotherm species including Drosophila melanogaster have been found throughout the world, with genetically larger body size and shorter development time occurring at high latitudes. Temperature is thought to play a major role in the evolution of this clinal variation. Laboratory thermal selection has effects similar to those seen in geographical clines. Evolution at low temperatures results in more rapid development to larger adult flies. This study investigated the effects of geographical origin and experimental temperature on larval growth efficiency in D. melanogaster. Larvae from populations that had evolved at high latitudes were found to use limited food more efficiently, so that the overall adult body size achieved was larger. Larvae reared at a lower experimental temperature (18 °C) used food more efficiently than those reared at a higher temperature (25 °C). The increases in growth efficiency found in populations from high latitudes could explain their increased body size and more rapid development.