Articles written in Journal of Genetics

    • Evolution of faster development does not lead to greater fluctuating asymmetry of sternopleural bristle number inDrosophila

      Mallikarjun Shakarad N. G. Prasad M. Rajamani Amitabh Joshi

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      Both strong directional selection and faster development are thought to destabilize development, giving rise to greater fluctuating asymmetry (FA), although there is no strong empirical evidence supporting this assertion. We compared FA in sternopleural bristle number in four populations ofDrosophila melanogaster successfully selected for faster development from egg to adult, and in four control populations. The fraction of perfectly symmetric individuals was higher in the selected populations, whereas the FA levels did not differ significantly between selected and control populations, clearly indicating that directional selection for faster development has not led to increased FA in sternopleural bristle number in these populations. This may be because: (i) development time and FA are uncorrelated, (ii) faster development does result in FA, but selection has favoured developmentally stable individuals that can develop fast and still be symmetrical, or (iii) the increased fraction of symmetric individuals in the selected populations is an artifact of reduced body size. Although we cannot discriminate among these explanations, our results suggest that the relationship between development time, FA and fitness may be far more subtle than often thought.

    • K-selection, α-selection, effectiveness, and tolerance in competition: Density-dependent selection revisited

      Amitabh Joshi N. G. Prasad Mallikarjun Shakarad

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      In theDrosophila literature, selection for faster development and selection for adapting to high density are often confounded, leading, for example, to the expectation that selection for faster development should also lead to higher competitive ability. At the same time, results from experimental studies on evolution at high density do not agree with many of the predictions from classical density-dependent selection theory. We put together a number of theoretical and empirical results from the literature, and some new experimental results onDrosophila populations successfully subjected to selection for faster development, to argue for a broader interpretation of density-dependent selection. We show that incorporating notions of α-selection, and the division of competitive ability into effectiveness and tolerance components, into the concept of density-dependent selection yields a formulation that allows for a better understanding of the empirical results. We also use this broader formulation to predict that selection for faster development inDrosophila should, in fact, lead to the correlated evolution of decreased competitive ability, even though it does lead to the evolution of greater efficiency and higher population growth rates at high density when in monotypic culture.

    • What have two decades of laboratory life-history evolution studies onDrosophila melanogaster taught us?

      N. G. Prasad Amitabh Joshi

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      A series of laboratory selection experiments onDrosophila melanogaster over the past two decades has provided insights into the specifics of life-history tradeoffs in the species and greatly refined our understanding of how ecology and genetics interact in life-history evolution. Much of what has been learnt from these studies about the subtlety of the microevolutionary process also has significant implications for experimental design and inference in organismal biology beyond life-history evolution, as well as for studies of evolution in the wild. Here we review work on the ecology and evolution of life-histories in laboratory populations ofD. melanogaster, emphasizing how environmental effects on life-history-related traits can influence evolutionary change. We discuss life-history tradeoffs—many unexpected—revealed by selection experiments, and also highlight recent work that underscores the importance to life-history evolution of cross-generation and cross-life-stage effects and interactions, sexual antagonism and sexual dimorphism, population dynamics, and the possible role of biological clocks in timing life-history events. Finally, we discuss some of the limitations of typical selection experiments, and how these limitations might be transcended in the future by a combination of more elaborate and realistic selection experiments, developmental evolutionary biology, and the emerging discipline of phenomics.

    • Variation in adult life history and stress resistance across five species ofDrosophila

      N. Sharmila Bharathi N. G. Prasad Mallikarjun Shakarad Amitabh Joshi

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      Dry weight at eclosion, adult lifespan, lifetime fecundity, lipid and carbohydrate content at eclosion, and starvation and desiccation resistance at eclosion were assayed on a long-term laboratory population ofDrosophila melanogaster, and one recently wild-caught population each of four other species ofDrosophila, two from themelanogaster and two from theimmigrans species group. The relationships among trait means across the five species did not conform to expectations based on correlations among these traits inferred from selection studies onD. melanogaster. In particular, the expected positive relationships between fecundity and size/lipid content, lipid content and starvation resistance, carbohydrate (glycogen) content and desiccation resistance, and the expected negative relationship between lifespan and fecundity were not observed. Most traits were strongly positively correlated between sexes across species, except for fractional lipid content and starvation resistance per microgram lipid. For most traits, there was evidence for significant sexual dimorphism but the degree of dimorphism did not vary across species except in the case of adult lifespan, starvation resistance per microgram lipid, and desiccation resistance per microgram carbohydrate. Overall,D. nasuta nasuta andD. sulfurigaster neonasuta (immigrans group) were heavier at eclosion than themelanogaster group species, and tended to have somewhat higher absolute lipid content and starvation resistance. Yet, these twoimmigrans group species were shorter-lived and had lower average daily fecundity than themelanogaster group species. The smallest species,D. malerkotliana (melanogaster group), had relatively high daily fecundity, intermediate lifespan and high fractional lipid content, especially in females.D. ananassae (melanogaster group) had the highest absolute and fractional carbohydrate content, but its desiccation resistance per microgram carbohydrate was the lowest among the five species. In terms of overall performance, the laboratory population ofD. melanogaster was clearly superior, under laboratory conditions, to the other four species if adult lifespan, lifetime fecundity, average daily fecundity, and absolute starvation and desiccation resistance are considered. This finding is contrary to several recent reports of substantially higher adult lifespan and stress resistance in recently wild-caught flies, relative to flies maintained for a long time in discretegeneration laboratory cultures. Possible explanations for these apparent anomalies are discussed in the context of the differing selection pressures likely to be experienced byDrosophila populations in laboratory versus wild environments.

    • Genetic correlations: Transient truths of adaptive evolution

      N. G. Prasad Mallikarjun N. Shakarad

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    • Sexual conflict in plants

      N. G. Prasad S. Bedhomme

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    • Reduced larval feeding rate is a strong evolutionary correlate of rapid development inDrosophila melanogaster

      M. Rajamani N. Raghavendra N. G. Prasad N. Archana Amitabh Joshi Mallikarjun Shakarad

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    • Sexual conflict and environmental change: trade-offs within and between the sexes during the evolution of desiccation resistance

      Lucia Kwan Stéphanie Bedhomme N. G. Prasad Adam K. Chippindale

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      Intralocus sexual conflict occurs when males and females experience sex-specific selection on a shared genome. With several notable exceptions, intralocus sexual conflict has been investigated in constant environments to which the study organisms have had an opportunity to adapt. However, a change in the environment can result in differential or even opposing selection pressures on males and females, creating sexual conflict. We used experimental evolution to explore the interaction between intralocus sexual conflict, sexual dimorphism and environmental variation in Drosophila melanogaster. Six populations were selected for adult desiccation resistance (D), with six matched control populations maintained in parallel (C). After 46 generations, the D populations had increased in survival time under arid conditions by 68% and in body weight by 20% compared to the C populations. The increase in size was the result of both extended development and faster growth rate of D juveniles. Adaptation to the stress came at a cost in terms of preadult viability and female fecundity. Because males are innately less tolerant of desiccation stress, very few D males survived desiccation-selection; while potentially a windfall for survivors, these conditions mean that most males’ fitness was determined posthumously. We conjectured that selection for early maturation and mating in males was in conflict with selection for survival and later reproduction in females. Consistent with this prediction, the sexes showed different patterns of age-specific desiccation resistance and resource acquisition, and there was a trend towards increasingly female-biased sexual size dimorphism. However, levels of desiccation resistance were unaffected, with D males and females increasing in parallel. Either there is a strong positive genetic correlation between the sexes that limits independent evolution of desiccation resistance, or fitness pay-offs from the strategy of riding out the stress bout are great enough to sustain concordant selection on the two sexes. We discuss the forces that mould fitness in males under a regimen where trade-offs between survival and reproduction may be considerable.

    • Mating with large males decreases the immune defence of females in Drosophila melanogaster

      K. Imroze N. G. Prasad

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      Mating has been widely reported to be a costly event for females. Studies indicate that female cost of mating in terms of fecundity and survivorship can be affected by their mates, leading to antagonistic coevolution between the sexes. However, as of now, there is no evidence that the female cost of mating in terms of immune defence is affected by their mates. We assess the effect of different sized males on antibacterial immune defence and reproductive fitness of their mates. We used a large outbred population of Drososphila melanogaster as the host and Serratia marcescens as the pathogen. We generated three different male phenotypes: small, medium and large, by manipulating larval densities. Compared to females mating with small males, those mating with large males had higher bacterial loads and lower fecundity. There was no significant effect of male phenotype on the fraction of females mated or copulation duration (an indicator of ejaculate investment). Thus, our study is the first clear demonstration that male phenotype can affect the cost of mating to females in terms of their antibacterial immune defence. Mating with large males imposes an additional cost of mating to females in terms of reduced immune defence. The observed results are very likely due to qualitative/quantitative differences in the ejaculates of the three different types of males. If the phenotypic variation that we observed in males in our study is mirrored by genetic variation, then, it can potentially lead to antagonistic coevolution of the sexes over immune defence.

    • Male-limited evolution suggests no extant intralocus sexual conflict over the sexually dimorphic cuticular hydrocarbons of Drosophila melanogaster

      Stéphanie Bedhomme Adam K. Chippindale N. G. Prasad Matthieu Delcourt Jessica K. Abbott Martin A. Mallet Howard D. Rundle

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      Sexually dimorphic traits are likely to have evolved through sexually antagonistic selection. However, recent empirical data suggest that intralocus sexual conflict often persists, even when traits have diverged between males and females. This implies that evolved dimorphism is often incomplete in resolving intralocus conflict, providing a mechanism for the maintenance of genetic variance in fitness-related traits. We used experimental evolution in Drosophila melanogaster to directly test for ongoing conflict over a suite of sexually dimorphic cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) that are likely targets of sex-specific selection. Using a set of experimental populations in which the transmission of genetic material had been restricted to males for 82 generations, we show that CHCs did not evolve, providing experimental evidence for the absence of current intralocus sexual conflict over these traits. The absence of ongoing conflict could indicate that CHCs have never been the target of sexually antagonistic selection, although this would require the existing dimorphism to have evolved via completely sex-linked mutations or as a result of former, but now absent, pleiotropic effects of the underlying loci on another trait under sexually antagonistic selection. An alternative interpretation, and which we believe to be more likely, is that the extensive CHC sexual dimorphism is the result of past intralocus sexual conflict that has been fully resolved, implying that these traits have evolved genetic independence between the sexes and that genetic variation in them is therefore maintained by alternative mechanisms. This latter interpretation is consistent with the known roles of CHCs in sexual communication in this species and with previous studies suggesting the genetic independence of CHCs between males and females. Nevertheless, direct estimates of sexually antagonistic selection will be important to fully resolve these alternatives.

    • Life-history evolution: understanding the proximate mechanisms

      N. G. Prasad

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    • Rethinking inheritance, yet again: inheritomes, contextomes and dynamic phenotypes

      N. G. Prasad Sutirth Dey Amitabh Joshi T. N. C. Vidya

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    • Niche construction in evolutionary theory: the construction of an academic niche?


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    • Feldman et al. do protest too much, we think


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