Antagonistic pleiotropic effect of second-chromosome inversions on body size and early life-history traits in Drosophila buzzatii

Esther Betrán, Mauro Santos, Alfredo Ruiz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


A simple way to think of evolutionary trade-offs is to suppose genetic effects of opposed direction that give rise to antagonistic pleiotropy. Maintenance of additive genetic variability for fitness related characters, in association with negative correlations between these characters, may result. In the cactophilic species Drosophila buzzatii, there is evidence that second-chromosome polymorphic inversions affect size-related traits. Because a tradeoff between body size and larval developmental time has been reported in Drosophila, we study here whether or not these inversions also affect larva-adult viability and developmental time. In particular, we expect that polymorphic inversions make a statistically significant contribution to the genetic correlation between body size (as measured by thorax length) and larval developmental time. This contribution is expected to be in the direction predicted by the trade-off, namely, those flies whose karyotypes cause them to be genetically larger should also have a longer developmental time than flies with other karyotypes. Using two different experimental approaches, a statistically significant contribution of the second-chromosome inversions to the phenotypic variances of body size and developmental time in D. buzzatii was found. Further, these inversions make a positive contribution to the total genetic correlation between the traits, as expected by the suggested trade-off. The data do not provide evidence as to whether the genetic correlation is due to antagonistic pleiotropic gene action or to gametic disequilibrium of linked genes that affect one or both traits. The results do suggest, however, a possible explanation for the maintenance of inversion polymorphism in this species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-154
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998


  • Antagonistic pleiotropy
  • Body size
  • Developmental time
  • Drosophila
  • Genetic correlation
  • Polymorphic inversions
  • Trade-offs
  • Viability


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