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Keywords:

  • altitude variation;
  • Drosophila;
  • fitness-related traits;
  • heat-shock gene polymorphism;
  • microsatellites;
  • thermal tolerance

Abstract

Altitudinal changes in traits and genetic markers can complement the studies on latitudinal patterns and provide evidence of natural selection because of climatic factors. In Drosophila melanogaster, latitudinal variation is well known but altitudinal patterns have rarely been investigated. Here, we examine five traits and five genetic markers on chromosome 3R in D. melanogaster collected at high and low altitudes from five latitudes along the eastern coast of Australia. Significant altitudinal differentiation was observed for cold tolerance, development time, ovariole number in unmated females, and the microsatellite marker DMU25686. Differences tended to match latitudinal patterns, in that trait values at high altitudes were also found at high latitudes, suggesting that factors linked to temperature are likely selective agents. Cold tolerance was closely associated with average temperature and other climatic factors, but no significant associations were detected for the other traits. Genes around DMU25686 represent good candidates for climatic adaptation.