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Genetic control of environmental variation of two quantitative traits of Drosophila melanogaster revealed by whole-genome sequencing

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  • Peter Sørensen
  • Gustavo de los Campos, University of Alabama at Birmingham, United States
  • Fabio Morgante, Department of Biological Sciences, Program in Genetics and the W. M. Keck Center for Behavioral Biology, North Carolina State University, United States
  • Trudy F C Mackay, Department of Biological Sciences and Program in Genetics, North Carolina State University, United States
  • Daniel Sorensen
Genetic studies usually focus on quantifying and understanding the existence of genetic control on expected phenotypic outcomes. However, there is compelling evidence suggesting the existence of genetic control at the level of environmental variability, with some genotypes exhibiting more stable and others more volatile performance. Understanding the mechanisms responsible for environmental variability not only informs medical questions but is relevant in evolution and in agricultural science. In this work fully sequenced inbred lines of Drosophila melanogaster were analyzed to study the nature of genetic control of environmental variance for two quantitative traits: starvation resistance (SR) and startle response (SL). The evidence for genetic control of environmental variance is compelling for both traits. Sequence information is incorporated in random regression models to study the underlying genetic signals, which are shown to be different in the two traits. Genomic variance in sexual dimorphism was found for SR but not for SL. Indeed, the proportion of variance captured by sequence information and the contribution to this variance from four chromosome segments differ between sexes in SR but not in SL. The number of studies of environmental variation, particularly in humans, is limited. The availability of full sequence information and modern computationally intensive statistical methods provides opportunities for rigorous analyses of environmental variability.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGenetics (Print)
Pages (from-to)487-497
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015

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