Stress tolerance and metabolic response to stress in Drosophila melanogaster

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A potentially important physiological response to stress may be alteration in the gross regulation of energy metabolism. Different genotypes may respond differently to environmental stress, and the variation in these norms of reaction may be of key importance to the maintenance of genetic variation in metabolic traits. In the study reported here, a set of genetically defined lines of Drosophila melanogaster were exposed to four stresses (acetic acid, ethanol, starvation and thermal stress) in order to assess the magnitude of environmental effects and genotype × environment interactions. In addition to scoring metabolic traits, distributions of survival times under each stress were also quantified. Although both metabolic traits and survival times exhibited strong differences among genotypes, the correlations between enzyme traits and survival were generally weak. Many of the genetic correlations exhibit significant heterogeneity across environments. The results suggest that transient environmental stress may play an important role in the evolution of this highly intercorrelated set of metabolic traits.

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