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Intrapopulation Genome Size Variation in D. melanogaster Reflects Life History Variation and Plasticity

NCJ Number
PLoS Genetics Volume: 10 Issue: 7 Dated: July 2014
Date Published
July 2014

This article presents research into genome size evolution and explores the two major classes of hypotheses regarding genome size evolution – those suggesting evolutionarily neutral processes and those that suggest a role for selection.


The authors determined female genome sizes using flow cytometry for 211 Drosophila melanogaster sequenced inbred strains from the Drosophila Genetic Reference Panel, and found significant conspecific and intrapopulation variation in genome size. The authors also compared several life history traits for 25 lines with large and 25 lines with small genomes in three thermal environments, and found that genome size as well as genome size by temperature interactions significantly correlated with survival to pupation and adulthood, time to pupation, female pupal mass, and female eclosion rates. Genome size accounted for up to 23% of the variation in developmental phenotypes, but the contribution of genome size to variation in life history traits was plastic and varied according to the thermal environment. Expression data implicate differences in metabolism that correspond to genome size variation. These results indicate that significant genome size variation exists within D. melanogaster and this variation may impact the evolutionary ecology of the species. Genome size variation accounts for a significant portion of life history variation in an environmentally dependent manner, suggesting that potential fitness effects associated with genome size variation also depend on environmental conditions. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: July 1, 2014