Stressful environments are known to perturb developmental patterns in insects. In the purview of desiccation as astressor, relatively little is known about the developmental consequences linked with desiccation tolerance. In thisstudy, we have particularly focused on the exploration of the temporal profile of postembryonic development inresponse to desiccation exposure in Drosophila melanogaster and the associated trade-offs. We document a correlationbetween variations in 20-hydroxyecdysone levels and the altered timing of metamorphic events during the lifecycle. Following desiccation, we observed an extension in the larval longevity whereas the duration of the pupal andadult stages was significantly shortened. Alternately, feeding of 20-hydroxyecdysone apparently led to the restorationof the normal temporal pattern of development in the desiccated group. In spite of the desiccation-responsiveheterochronic shifts in development, the overall lifespan post recovery remained almost unaltered among thedesiccated and undesiccated groups suggesting plasticity in developmental control. This observation reminisces
‘canalization-like’ phenomenon that buffers alterations in the overall lifespan. We thus identified a desiccation responsiveperiod in the lifespan of D. melanogaster during which variations in ecdysone levels are capable to alter thetemporal course of development.
Volume 46, 2021
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