DDT resistance, epistasis and male fitness in flies


Nina Wedell, Centre for Ecology & Conservation, Biosciences, University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus, Tremough, Penryn TR10 9EZ, UK.
Tel.: 01326 371863; fax: 01326 253638; e-mail: n.wedell@exeter.ac.uk


In Drosophila melanogaster, the DDT resistance allele (DDT-R) is beneficial in the presence of DDT. Interestingly, DDT-R also elevates female fitness in the absence of DDT and existed in populations before DDT use. However, DDT-R did not spread regardless of DDT-independent selective advantages in females. We ask whether sexual antagonism could explain why DDT-R did not spread before pesticide use. We tested pre- and post-copulatory male fitness correlates in two genetic backgrounds into which we backcrossed the DDT-R allele. We found costs to DDT-R that depended on the genetic background in which DDT-R was found and documented strong epistasis between genetic background and DDT-R that influenced male size. Although it remains unclear whether DDT-R is generally sexually antagonistic, or whether the fitness costs noted would be sufficient to retard the spread of DDT-R in the absence of DDT, general fitness advantages to DDT-R in the absence of DDT may be unlikely.