Polymorphism in the couch potato gene clines in eastern Australia but is not associated with ovarian dormancy in Drosophila melanogaster


Siu F. Lee, Fax: 61 3 8344 2279; E-mail: ronaldl@unimelb.edu.au


Natural selection can generate parallel latitudinal clines in traits and gene frequencies across continents, but these have rarely been linked. An amino acid (isoleucine to lysine, or I462K) polymorphism of the couch potato (cpo) gene in Drosophila melanogaster is thought to control female reproductive diapause cline in North America (Schmidt et al. 2008, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 105, 16207–16211). Here, we show that under standard diapause-inducing conditions (12 °C and short photoperiod) (Saunders et al. 1989, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 86, 3748–3752), egg maturation in Australian flies is delayed, but not arrested at previtellogenic stages. At 12 °C, the phenotypic distribution in egg development was bimodal at stages 8 and 14 and showed a strong nonlinear pattern on the east coast of Australia, with incidence of egg maturation delay (ovarian dormancy) increasing both toward tropical and temperate climates. Furthermore, we found no evidence for an association between the cpo I462K polymorphism and ovarian dormancy at either 12 or 10 °C (when egg maturation was often delayed at stage 7). Owing to strong linkage disequilibrium, the latitudinal cline in cpo allele frequencies was no longer evident once variation in the In(3R)P inversion polymorphism was taken into account. Our results suggest that the standard diapause-inducing conditions (12 °C and short photoperiod) were not sufficient to cause the typical previtellogenic developmental arrest in Australian flies and that the cpo I462K polymorphism does not explain the observed delay in egg development. In conclusion, ovarian dormancy does not show a simple latitudinal cline, and the lack of cpo-dormancy association suggests a different genetic basis to reproductive dormancy in North America and Australia.