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Genetic variation in senescence marker protein-30 is associated with natural variation in cold tolerance in Drosophila

  • KATIE J. CLOWERS (a1), RICHARD F. LYMAN (a2), TRUDY F. C. MACKAY (a2) (a3) and THEODORE J. MORGAN (a1)

Summary

A comprehensive understanding of the genetic basis of phenotypic adaptation in nature requires the identification of the functional allelic variation underlying adaptive phenotypes. The manner in which organisms respond to temperature extremes is an adaptation in many species. In the current study, we investigate the role of molecular variation in senescence marker protein-30 (Smp-30) on natural phenotypic variation in cold tolerance in Drosophila melanogaster. Smp-30 encodes a product that is thought to be involved in the regulation of Ca2+ ion homeostasis and has been shown previously to be differentially expressed in response to cold stress. Thus, we sought to assess whether molecular variation in Smp-30 was associated with natural phenotypic variation in cold tolerance in a panel of naturally derived inbred lines from a population in Raleigh, North Carolina. We identified four non-coding polymorphisms that were strongly associated with natural phenotypic variation in cold tolerance. Interestingly, two polymorphisms that were in close proximity to one another (2 bp apart) exhibited opposite phenotypic effects. Consistent with the maintenance of a pair of antagonistically acting polymorphisms, tests of molecular evolution identified a significant excess of maintained variation in this region, suggesting balancing selection is acting to maintain this variation. These results suggest that multiple mutations in non-coding regions can have significant effects on phenotypic variation in adaptive traits within natural populations, and that balancing selection can maintain polymorphisms with opposite effects on phenotypic variation.

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Corresponding author

Corresponding author. The Division of Biology, 116 Ackert Hall, Manhattan, KS 66502, USA. Tel: 785-532-6126. Fax: 785-532-6653. e-mail: tjmorgan@ksu.edu

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