Shifting clinal patterns and microsatellite variation in Drosophila serrata populations: a comparison of populations near the southern border of the species range


 A. Magiafoglou, Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research, La Trobe University, Victoria 3086. Fax: 61 394792361; e-mail:


Geographical patterns for quantitative traits in Drosophila and other insects are commonly used to investigate climatic selection. They are usually determined from comparisons of populations over extensive areas and based on one collection per population. Here we consider patterns in the Australian endemic species Drosophila serrata established over a shorter transect with repeated sampling. Summer (prewinter) and spring (post-winter) collections were made from 10 to 14 localities, incorporating the southern border of D.serrata and extending approximately 1000 km northwards along the eastern coast of Australia. Linear or curvilinear associations with latitude were evident for development time, viability and cold resistance but patterns differed between collections. Some geographical (population) and genetic associations between traits were found and these also tended to differ between collections. Results confirm the importance of cold stress resistance over winter to the southern border of this species. Microsatellite markers were developed for D.serrata. These indicated a low level of genetic differentiation between populations, high levels of gene flow and no evidence that the most southerly populations were isolated. The results suggest that selection generated geographical patterns in cold resistance, development time and viability, and that substantial gene flow may prevent adaptation at the border to conditions beyond the current distribution of D. serrata.