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The effect of genetic and environmental variation on genital size in male Drosophila: canalized but developmentally unstable

, : The effect of genetic and environmental variation on genital size in male Drosophila: canalized but developmentally unstable. Plos One 6(12): E28278-E28278

The genitalia of most male arthropods scale hypoallometrically with body size, that is they are more or less the same size across large and small individuals in a population. Such scaling is expected to arise when genital traits show less variation than somatic traits in response to factors that generate size variation among individuals in a population. Nevertheless, there have been few studies directly examining the relative sensitivity of genital and somatic traits to factors that affect their size. Such studies are key to understanding genital evolution and the evolution of morphological scaling relationships more generally. Previous studies indicate that the size of genital traits in male Drosophila melanogaster show a relatively low response to variation in environmental factors that affect trait size. Here we show that the size of genital traits in male fruit flies also exhibit a relatively low response to variation in genetic factors that affect trait size. Importantly, however, this low response is only to genetic factors that affect body and organ size systemically, not those that affect organ size autonomously. Further, we show that the genital traits do not show low levels of developmental instability, which is the response to stochastic developmental errors that also influence organ size autonomously. We discuss these results in the context of current hypotheses on the proximate and ultimate mechanisms that generate genital hypoallometry.


PMID: 22174784

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028278

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