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Thermal developmental plasticity affects body size and water conservation of Drosophila nepalensis from the Western Himalayas

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 June 2014

R. Parkash
Affiliation:
Department of Genetics, Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak 124001, India
C. Lambhod*
Affiliation:
Department of Genetics, Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak 124001, India
D. Singh
Affiliation:
Department of Genetics, Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak 124001, India
*
*Author for correspondence Phone: +91-9996074219 E-mail: chanda.malik071@gmail.com

Abstract

In the Western Himalayas, Drosophila nepalensis is more abundant during the colder and drier winter than the warmer rainy season but the mechanistic bases of such adaptations are largely unknown. We tested effects of developmental plasticity on desiccation-related traits (body size, body melanization and water balance traits) that may be consistent with changes in seasonal abundance of this species. D. nepalensis grown at 15°C has shown twofold higher body size, greater melanization (∼15-fold), higher desiccation resistance (∼55 h), hemolymph as well as carbohydrate content (twofold higher) as compared with corresponding values at 25°C. Water loss before succumbing to death was much higher (∼16%) at 15°C than 25°C. Developmental plastic effects on body size are associated with changes in water balance-related traits (bulk water, hemolymph and dehydration tolerance). The role of body melanization was evident from the analysis of assorted darker and lighter flies (from a mass culture of D. nepalensis reared at 21°C) which lacked differences in dry mass but showed differences in desiccation survival hours and rate of water loss. For adult acclimation, we found a slight increase in desiccation resistance of flies reared at lower growth temperature, whereas in flies reared at 25°C such a response was lacking. In D. nepalensis, greater developmental plasticity is consistent with its contrasting levels of seasonal abundance. Finally, in the context of global climate change in the Western Himalayas, D. nepalensis seems vulnerable in the warmer season due to lower adult as well as developmental acclimation potential at higher growth temperature (25°C).

Type
Research Paper
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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