Mapping Selection within Drosophila melanogaster Embryo's Anatomy

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© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: We present a survey of selection across Drosophila melanogaster embryonic anatomy. Our approach integrates genomic variation, spatial gene expression patterns, and development with the aim of mapping adaptation over the entire embryo's anatomy. Our adaptation map is based on analyzing spatial gene expression information for 5,969 genes (from text-based annotations of in situ hybridization data directly from the BDGP database,Tomancak et al. 2007) and the polymorphism and divergence in these genes (from the project DGRP,Mackay et al. 2012). The proportion of nonsynonymous substitutions that are adaptive, neutral, or slightly deleterious are estimated for the set of genes expressed in each embryonic anatomical structure using the distribution of fitness effects-Alpha method (Eyre-Walker and Keightley 2009). This method is a robust derivative of the McDonald and Kreitman test (McDonald and Kreitman 1991). We also explore whether different anatomical structures differ in the phylogenetic age, codon usage, or expression bias of the genes they express and whether genes expressed in many anatomical structures show more adaptive substitutions than other genes. We found that: 1) most of the digestive system and ectoderm-derived structures are under selective constraint, 2) the germ line and some specific mesoderm-derived structures show high rates of adaptive substitution, and 3) the genes that are expressed in a small number of anatomical structures show higher expression bias, lower phylogenetic ages, and less constraint.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-79
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • DFE-Alpha
  • Drosophila
  • adaptation
  • codon usage
  • embryo anatomy
  • evo-devo
  • expression bias
  • gene expression
  • natural selection
  • phylogenetic age
  • selective constraint


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