Multiple capacitors for natural genetic variation in Drosophila melanogaster


Correspondence: Kazuo H. Takahashi, Fax: +81 86 251 8705; E-mail:


Cryptic genetic variation (CGV) or a standing genetic variation that is not ordinarily expressed as a phenotype is released when the robustness of organisms is impaired under environmental or genetic perturbations. Evolutionary capacitors modulate the amount of genetic variation exposed to natural selection and hidden cryptically; they have a fundamental effect on the evolvability of traits on evolutionary timescales. In this study, I have demonstrated the effects of multiple genomic regions of Drosophila melanogaster on CGV in wing shape. I examined the effects of 61 genomic deficiencies on quantitative and qualitative natural genetic variation in the wing shape of D. melanogaster. I have identified 10 genomic deficiencies that do not encompass a known candidate evolutionary capacitor, Hsp90, exposing natural CGV differently depending on the location of the deficiencies in the genome. Furthermore, five genomic deficiencies uncovered qualitative CGV in wing morphology. These findings suggest that CGV in wing shape of wild-type D. melanogaster is regulated by multiple capacitors with divergent functions. Future analysis of genes encompassed by these genomic regions would help elucidate novel capacitor genes and better understand the general features of capacitors regarding natural genetic variation.