Resistance to environmental stress in Drosophila ananassae: latitudinal variation and adaptation among populations


Bashisth N. Singh, Genetics Laboratory, Department of Zoology, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi 221 005, India. Tel.: +91 542 670 2528; fax: +91 542 236 8174; e-mail:;


Geographical variation in traits related to fitness is often the result of adaptive evolution. Stress resistance traits in Drosophila often show clinal variation, suggesting that selection affects resistance traits either directly or indirectly. Multiple stress resistance traits were investigated in 45 natural populations of Drosophila ananassae collected from all over India. There was significant positive correlation between starvation resistance and lipid content. Significant negative correlations between desiccation and lipid content and between desiccation and heat resistance were also found. Flies from lower latitudes had higher starvation resistance, heat resistance and lipid content but the pattern was reversed for desiccation resistance. These results suggest that flies from different localities varied in their susceptibility to starvation because of difference in their propensity to store body lipid. Multiple regression analysis provided evidence of climatic selection driven by latitudinal variation in the seasonal amplitude of temperature and humidity changes within the Indian. Finally, our results suggest a high degree of variation in stress resistance at the population level in D. ananassae.