Evol Ecol Res 7: 203-217 (2005)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Heat-induced maternal effects in Drosophila mercatorum and its evolutionary consequences

Cino Pertoldi,1,2,3* Anni Røgilds,1 Ditte Holm Andersen1,4 and Volker Loeschcke1

1Department of Ecology and Genetics, Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark,  2Department of Wildlife Ecology and Biodiversity, National Environmental Research Institute, Rønde, Denmark,  3Department of Applied Biology, Estación Biológica Doñana, CSIC, Seville, Spain and  4Dipartimento di Biologia Evoluzionistica Sperimentale, Bologna, Italy

Address all correspondence to Cino Pertoldi, Department of Applied Biology, Estación Biológica Doñana, CSIC, Pabellón del Perú, Avda. Maria Luisa, s/n 41023 Seville, Spain.
e-mail: cino@ebd.csic.es


The impact of temperature-induced maternal effects on offspring phenotypic variability (σ2p), developmental instability, the interaction between developmental instability and the environmental variability (σ2e), here called the environmental covariance effect (ECV), and the size of ten wing traits were investigated in a parthenogenetic strain of Drosophila mercatorum. The maternal flies were treated in water-baths at different high temperatures (25°C [control], 36°C, 37°C, 37.5°C and 38°C). The results showed an overall increase in offspring wing traits’ σ2p and ECV with increasing maternal temperature up to 37°C. Above this temperature σ2p and ECV decreased, and in some cases dropped below the values found for the control temperature. Developmental instability and σ2e did not show a clear pattern with increasing temperature stress, even within the same trait. The mean size of the offspring wing traits increased with maternal temperature up to 37.5°C, where it reached a plateau. By using a parthenogenetic strain we were able to exclude any genetic contribution to the variation among individuals. The results show that the effect of temperature stress can be maternally transmitted and that it has an impact on offspring size and σ2p. This study is the first to provide a precise quantitative estimate of the maternal effect and its components (σ2p, developmental instability, ECV, σ2e and mean trait size). The evolutionary consequences of the changes on these components are discussed.

Keywords: developmental instability, environmental variability, maternal effect, phenotypic variability, thermal stress.

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