Jul 8, 1997

Evolution of foraging behavior in Drosophila by density-dependent selection

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Marla B SokolowskiK Hughes


One of the rare examples of a single major gene underlying a naturally occurring behavioral polymorphism is the foraging locus of Drosophila melanogaster. Larvae with the rover allele, forR, have significantly longer foraging path lengths on a yeast paste than do those homozygous for the sitter allele, fors. These variants do not differ in general activity in the absence of food. The evolutionary significance of this polymorphism is not as yet understood. Here we examine the effect of high and low animal rearing densities on the larval foraging path-length phenotype and show that density-dependent natural selection produces changes in this trait. In three unrelated base populations the long path (rover) phenotype was selected for under high-density rearing conditions, whereas the short path (sitter) phenotype was selected for under low-density conditions. Genetic crosses suggested that these changes resulted from alterations in the frequency of the fors allele in the low-density-selected lines. Further experiments showed that density-dependent selection during the larval stage rather than the adult stage of development was sufficient to explain these results. Density-dependent mechanisms may be sufficient to maintain variation ...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Gene Polymorphism
Genes, Insect
Behavior, Animal
Genetic Equilibrium

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