Heritable variation for fecundity in field-collected Drosophila melanogaster and their offspring reared under different environmental temperatures

Carla M. Sgrò, Ary A. Hoffmann

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30 Citations (Scopus)


Heritable variation for fitness components is normally measured under favorable laboratory conditions, but organisms in the field experience variable conditions that are often stressful and may affect the expression of heritable variation. We examined heritable variation for early fecundity in three samples of Drosophila melanogaster from the field. Flies were obtained from a rotting fruit pile in summer, autumn, and spring, and progeny were reared under laboratory conditions. Field parents were tested for fecundity at 14°C or 28°C depending on ambient temperatures. Wing/thorax length ratios measured on flies from the spring collection suggested that flies had developed at around 20°C. Progeny were reared and tested at 14°C, 25°C, and 28°C. In the summer collection, parent-offspring regression coefficients were high and significant, compared to nonsignificant values obtained in two of three autumn comparisons. In the spring collection, parent-offspring regressions were negative regardless of testing temperature, suggesting that field females with a high fecundity produced offspring with low scores. Comparisons of F1 and F2 laboratory generations indicated intermediate heritabilities for fecundity in the laboratory. The lower bound heritability estimate for fecundity in field individuals was 37% in summer and 59% in autumn. Estimates of field heritability and evolvability for wing length measured in the spring collection were lower than in the laboratory. The results indicate that heritabilities and additive genetic variances for fecundity can be high in field-reared flies, but that results may vary between field collections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-143
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Drosophila
  • Evolvability
  • Fecundity
  • Heritability
  • Nature
  • Temperature

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