Genome-wide evolutionary response to a heat wave in Drosophila

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Extreme climatic events can substantially affect organismal performance and Darwinian fitness. In April 2011, a strong heat wave struck extensive geographical areas of the world, including Western Europe. At that time, we happened to resume and extend a long-term time series of seasonal genetic data in the widespread fly Drosophila subobscura, which provided a unique opportunity to quantify the intensity of the genetic perturbation caused by the heat wave. We show that the spring 2011 genetic constitution of the populations transiently shifted to summer-like frequencies, and that the magnitude of the genetic anomaly quantitatively matched the temperature anomaly. The results provide compelling evidence that direct effects of rising temperature are driving adaptive evolutionary shifts, and also suggest a strong genetic resilience in this species.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20130228
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2013


  • Adaptation
  • Chromosomal inversions
  • Climate change
  • Evolution


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