A multivariate test of evolutionary constraints for thermal tolerance in Drosophila melanogaster


Carla M. Sgrò, School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, Clayton 3800, Vic., Australia.
Tel.: ++61 3 9902 0332; fax: ++61 3 9905 5613;
e-mail: carla.sgro@monash.edu


Exposure to extreme temperatures is increasingly likely to impose strong selection on many organisms in their natural environments. The ability of organisms to adapt to such selective pressures will be determined by patterns of genetic variation and covariation. Despite increasing interest in thermal adaptation, few studies have examined the extent to which the genetic covariance between traits might constrain thermal responses. Furthermore, it remains unknown whether sex-specific genetic architectures will constrain responses to climatic selection. We used a paternal half-sibling breeding design to examine whether sex-specific genetic architectures and genetic covariances between traits might constrain evolutionary responses to warming climates in a population of Drosophila melanogaster. Our results suggest that the sexes share a common genetic underpinning for heat tolerance as indicated by a strong positive inter-sexual genetic correlation. Further, we found no evidence in either of the sexes that genetic trade-offs between heat tolerance and fitness will constrain responses to thermal selection. Our results suggest that neither trade-offs, nor sex-specific genetics, will significantly constrain an evolutionary response to climatic warming, at least in this population of D. melanogaster.