[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Maternal effects often affect fitness traits, but there is little experimental evidence pertaining to their contribution to response to selection imposed by novel environments. We studied the evolution of maternal effects in Drosophila populations selected for tolerance to chronic larval malnutrition. To this end, we performed pairwise reciprocal F1 crosses between six selected (malnutrition-tolerant) populations and six unselected control populations, and assessed the effect of cross direction on larval growth and developmental rate, adult weight and egg-to-adult viability expressed under the malnutrition regime. Each pair of reciprocal crosses revealed large maternal effects (possibly including cytoplasmic genetic effects) on at least one trait, but the magnitude, sign and which traits were affected varied among populations. Thus, maternal effects contributed significantly to the response to selection imposed by the malnutrition regime, but these changes were idiosyncratic, suggesting a rugged adaptive landscape. Furthermore, although the selected populations evolved both faster growth and higher viability, the maternal effects on growth rate and viability were negatively correlated across populations. Thus, genes mediating maternal effects can evolve to partially counteract the response to selection mediated by the effects of alleles on their own carriers' phenotype, and maternal effects may contribute to evolutionary trade-offs between components of offspring fitness. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Structures built by animals are a widespread and ecologically important 'extended phenotype'. While its taxonomic diversity has been well described, factors affecting short-term evolution of building behavior within a species have received little experimental attention. Here we describe how, given the opportunity, wandering Drosophila melanogaster larvae often build long tunnels in agar substrates and embed their pupae within them. These embedded larvae are characterized by a longer egg-to-pupariation developmental time than larvae that pupate on the surface. Assuming that such building behaviors are likely to be energetically costly and/or time consuming, we hypothesized that they should evolve to be less pronounced under resource or time limitation. In accord with this prediction, larvae from populations evolved for 160 generations under a regime that combines larval malnutrition with limited developmental time dug shorter tunnels than larvae from control unselected populations. However, the proportion of larvae that embedded before pupation did not differ between the malnutrition-adapted and control populations, suggesting that tunnel length and likelihood of embedding before pupation are controlled by different genetic loci. The behaviors exhibited by wandering larvae of Drosophila melanogaster prior to pupation offer a model system to study evolution of animal building behaviors because the tunneling and embedding phenotypes are simple, facultative and highly variable.
PLoS ONE 02/2015; 10(2). DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0117280 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Conflict between males and females over whether, when, and how often to mate often leads to the evolution of sexually antagonistic interactions that reduce female reproductive success. Because the offspring of relatives contribute to inclusive fitness, high relatedness between rival males might be expected to reduce competition and result in the evolution of reduced harm to females. A recent study investigated this possibility in Drosophila melanogaster and concluded that groups of brothers cause less harm to females than groups of unrelated males, attributing the effect to kin selection. That study did not control for the rearing environment of males, rendering the results impossible to interpret in the context of kin selection. Here, we conducted a similar experiment while manipulating whether males developed with kin prior to being placed with females. We found no difference between related and unrelated males in the harm caused to females when males were reared separately. In contrast, when related males developed and emerged together before the experiment, female reproductive output was higher. Our results show that relatedness among males is insufficient to reduce harm to females, while a shared rearing environment – resulting in males similar to or familiar with one another – is necessary to generate this pattern.
Ecology and Evolution 02/2015; 5(4). DOI:10.1002/ece3.1417 · 2.32 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Even though laboratory evolution experiments have demonstrated genetic variation for learning ability, we know little about the underlying genetic architecture and genetic relationships with other ecologically relevant traits. With a full diallel cross among twelve inbred lines of Drosophila melanogaster originating from a natural population (0.75 < F < 0.93), we investigated the genetic architecture of olfactory learning ability and compared it to that for another behavioral trait (unconditional preference for odors), as well as three traits quantifying the ability to deal with environmental challenges: egg-to-adult survival and developmental rate on a low-quality food, and resistance to a bacterial pathogen. Substantial additive genetic variation was detected for each trait, highlighting their potential to evolve. Genetic effects contributed more than nongenetic parental effects to variation in traits measured at the adult stage: learning, odorant perception, and resistance to infection. In contrast, the two traits quantifying larval tolerance to low-quality food were more strongly affected by parental effects. We found no evidence for genetic correlations between traits, suggesting that these traits could evolve at least to some degree independently of one another. Finally, inbreeding adversely affected all traits.
Ecology and Evolution 02/2015; 5(3). DOI:10.1002/ece3.1379 · 2.32 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Virulent infections are expected to impair learning ability, either as a direct consequence of stressed physiological state or as an adaptive response that minimizes diversion of energy from immune defense. This prediction has been well supported for mammals and bees. Here, we report an opposite result in Drosophila melanogaster. Using an odor-mechanical shock conditioning paradigm, we found that intestinal infection with bacterial pathogens Pseudomonas entomophila or Erwinia c. carotovora improved flies' learning performance after a 1 h retention interval. Infection with P. entomophila (but not E. c. carotovora) also improved learning performance after 5 min retention. No effect on learning performance was detected for intestinal infections with an avirulent GacA mutant of P. entomophila or for virulent systemic (hemocoel) infection with E. c. carotovora. Assays of unconditioned responses to odorants and shock do not support a major role for changes in general responsiveness to stimuli in explaining the changes in learning performance, although differences in their specific salience for learning cannot be excluded. Our results demonstrate that the effects of pathogens on learning performance in insects is less predictable than suggested by previous studies, and support the notion that immune stress can sometimes boost cognitive abilities.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Many genes have evolved sexually dimorphic expression as a consequence of divergent selection on males and females. However, because the sexes share a genome, the extent to which evolution can shape gene expression independently in each sex is controversial. Here, we use experimental evolution to reveal suboptimal sex-specific expression for much of the genome. By enforcing a monogamous mating system in populations of Drosophila melanogaster for over 100 generations, we eliminated major components of selection on males: female choice and male-male competition. If gene expression is subject to sexually antagonistic selection, relaxed selection on males should cause evolution towards female optima. Monogamous males and females show this pattern of feminization in both the whole-body and head transcriptomes. Genes with male-biased expression patterns evolved decreased expression under monogamy, while genes with female-biased expression evolved increased expression, relative to polygamous populations. Our results demonstrate persistent and widespread evolutionary tension between male and female adaptation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: While learning to avoid toxic food is common in mammals and occurs in some insects, learning to avoid cues associated with infectious pathogens has received little attention. We demonstrate that Drosophila melanogaster show olfactory learning in response to infection with their virulent intestinal pathogen Pseudomonas entomophila. This pathogen was not aversive to taste when added to food. Nonetheless, flies exposed for 3 h to food laced with P. entomophila, and scented with an odorant, became subsequently less likely to choose this odorant than flies exposed to pathogen-laced food scented with another odorant. No such effect occurred after an otherwise identical treatment with an avirulent mutant of P. entomophila, indicating that the response is mediated by pathogen virulence. These results demonstrate that a virulent pathogen infection can act as an aversive unconditioned stimulus which flies can associate with food odours, and thus become less attracted to pathogen-contaminated food.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sexual selection is responsible for the evolution of male ornaments and armaments, but its role in the evolution of cognition-the ability to process, retain and use information-is largely unexplored. Because successful courtship is likely to involve processing information in complex, competitive sexual environments, we hypothesized that sexual selection contributes to the evolution and maintenance of cognitive abilities in males. To test this, we removed mate choice and mate competition from experimental populations of Drosophila melanogaster by enforcing monogamy for over 100 generations. Males evolved under monogamy became less proficient than polygamous control males at relatively complex cognitive tasks. When faced with one receptive and several unreceptive females, polygamous males quickly focused on receptive females, whereas monogamous males continued to direct substantial courtship effort towards unreceptive females. As a result, monogamous males were less successful in this complex setting, despite being as quick to mate as their polygamous counterparts with only one receptive female. This diminished ability to use past information was not limited to the courtship context: monogamous males (but not females) also showed reduced aversive olfactory learning ability. Our results provide direct experimental evidence that the intensity of sexual selection is an important factor in the evolution of male cognitive ability.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 02/2014; 281(1781):20132873. DOI:10.1098/rspb.2013.2873 · 5.29 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Virulent infections are expected to impair learning ability, either as a direct consequence of stressed physiological state or as an adaptive response that minimizes diversion of energy from immune defense. This prediction has been well supported for mammals and bees. Here, we report an opposite result in Drosophila melanogaster. Using an odor-mechanical shock conditioning paradigm, we found that intestinal infection with bacterial pathogens Pseudomonas entomophila or Erwinia c. carotovora improved flies’ learning performance after a 1 h retention interval. Infection with P. entomophila (but not E. c. carotovora) also improved learning performance after 5 min retention. No effect on learning performance was detected for intestinal infections with an avirulent GacA mutant of P. entomophila or for virulent systemic (hemocoel) infection with E. c. carotovora. Assays of unconditioned responses to odorants and shock do not support a major role for changes in general responsiveness to stimuli in explaining the changes in learning performance, although differences in their specific salience for learning cannot be excluded. Our results demonstrate that the effects of pathogens on learning performance in insects is less predictable than suggested by previous studies, and support the notion that immune stress can sometimes boost cognitive abilities.
Brain Behavior and Immunity 01/2014; · 6.13 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Learning is predicted to affect manifold ecological and evolutionary processes, but the extent to which animals rely on learning in nature remains poorly known, especially for short-lived non-social invertebrates. This is in particular the case for Drosophila, a favourite laboratory system to study molecular mechanisms of learning. Here we tested whether Drosophila melanogaster use learned information to choose food while free-flying in a large greenhouse emulating the natural environment. In a series of experiments flies were first given an opportunity to learn which of two food odours was associated with good versus unpalatable taste; subsequently, their preference for the two odours was assessed with olfactory traps set up in the greenhouse. Flies that had experienced palatable apple-flavoured food and unpalatable orange-flavoured food were more likely to be attracted to the odour of apple than flies with the opposite experience. This was true both when the flies first learned in the laboratory and were then released and recaptured in the greenhouse, and when the learning occurred under free-flying conditions in the greenhouse. Furthermore, flies retained the memory of their experience while exploring the greenhouse overnight in the absence of focal odours, pointing to the involvement of consolidated memory. These results support the notion that even small, short lived insects which are not central-place foragers make use of learned cues in their natural environments.
Ecology and Evolution 10/2013; 3(12):4139-4148. DOI:10.1002/ece3.783 · 2.32 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Based on ecological and metabolic arguments, some authors predict that adaptation to novel, harsh environments should involve alleles showing negative (diminishing return) epistasis and/or that it should be mediated in part by evolution of maternal effects. Although the first prediction has been supported in microbes, there has been little experimental support for either prediction in multicellular eukaryotes. Here we use a line-cross design to study the genetic architecture of adaptation to chronic larval malnutrition in a population of Drosophila melanogaster that evolved on an extremely nutrient-poor larval food for 84 generations. We assayed three fitness-related traits (developmental rate, adult female weight and egg-to-adult viability) under the malnutrition conditions in 14 crosses between this selected population and a nonadapted control population originally derived from the same base population. All traits showed a pattern of negative epistasis between alleles improving performance under malnutrition. Furthermore, evolutionary changes in maternal traits accounted for half of the 68% increase in viability and for the whole of 8% reduction in adult female body weight in the selected population (relative to unselected controls). These results thus support both of the above predictions and point to the importance of nonadditive effects in adaptive microevolution.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hunting live prey is risky and thought to require specialized adaptations. Therefore, observations of predatory cannibalism in otherwise non-carnivorous animals raise questions about its function, adaptive significance and evolutionary potential. Here we document predatory cannibalism on larger conspecifics in Drosophila melanogaster larvae and address its evolutionary significance. We found that under crowded laboratory conditions younger larvae regularly attack and consume 'wandering-stage' conspecifics, forming aggregations mediated by chemical cues from the attacked victim. Nutrition gained this way can be significant: an exclusively cannibalistic diet was sufficient for normal development from eggs to fertile adults. Cannibalistic diet also induced plasticity of larval mouth parts. Finally, during 118 generations of experimental evolution, replicated populations maintained under larval malnutrition evolved enhanced propensity towards cannibalism. These results suggest that, at least under laboratory conditions, predation on conspecifics in Drosophila is a functional, adaptive behaviour, which can rapidly evolve in response to nutritional conditions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Experimental evolution is the study of evolutionary processes occurring in experimental populations in response to conditions imposed by the experimenter. This research approach is increasingly used to study adaptation, estimate evolutionary parameters, and test diverse evolutionary hypotheses. Long applied in vaccine development, experimental evolution also finds new applications in biotechnology. Recent technological developments provide a path towards detailed understanding of the genomic and molecular basis of experimental evolutionary change, while new findings raise new questions that can be addressed with this approach. However, experimental evolution has important limitations, and the interpretation of results is subject to caveats resulting from small population sizes, limited timescales, the simplified nature of laboratory environments, and, in some cases, the potential to misinterpret the selective forces and other processes at work.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chronic exposure to food of low quality may exert conflicting selection pressures on foraging behaviour. On the one hand, more active search behaviour may allow the animal to find patches with slightly better, or more, food; on the other hand, such active foraging is energetically costly, and thus may be opposed by selection for energetic efficiency. Here, we test these alternative hypotheses in Drosophila larvae. We show that populations which experimentally evolved improved tolerance to larval chronic malnutrition have shorter foraging path length than unselected control populations. A behavioural polymorphism in foraging path length (the rover-sitter polymorphism) exists in nature and is attributed to the foraging locus (for). We show that a sitter strain (for(s2)) survives better on the poor food than the rover strain (for(R)), confirming that the sitter foraging strategy is advantageous under malnutrition. Larvae of the selected and control populations did not differ in global for expression. However, a quantitative complementation test suggests that the for locus may have contributed to the adaptation to poor food in one of the selected populations, either through a change in for allele frequencies, or by interacting epistatically with alleles at other loci. Irrespective of its genetic basis, our results provide two independent lines of evidence that sitter-like foraging behaviour is favoured under chronic larval malnutrition.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 06/2012; 279(1742):3540-6. DOI:10.1098/rspb.2012.0966 · 5.29 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Evidence for both, acceleration and deceleration of evolution through learning can be found in the literature. We suggest a selection gradient model that allows to predict whether ac-celeration or deceleration is predominant. The main idea is that learning alters the genotype-to-fitness landscape, which determines selection pressure. Assuming that fitness can be split up into an innate and a learned component, conditions for the occurrence of the Baldwin and the Hiding effect are derived. We introduce learning curves to analyse what we term lifetime fitness. The influence of the shape of the learn-ing curve on the interaction between evolution and learning is analysed.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The rate of food consumption is a major factor affecting success in scramble competition for a limited amount of easy-to-find food. Accordingly, several studies report positive genetic correlations between larval competitive ability and feeding rate in Drosophila; both become enhanced in populations evolving under larval crowding. Here, we report the experimental evolution of enhanced competitive ability in populations of D. melanogaster previously maintained for 84 generations at low density on an extremely poor larval food. In contrast to previous studies, greater competitive ability was not associated with the evolution of higher feeding rate; if anything, the correlation between the two traits across lines tended to be negative. Thus, enhanced competitive ability may be favored by nutritional stress even when competition is not intense, and competitive ability may be decoupled from the rate of food consumption.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(1):e30650. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0030650 · 3.23 Impact Factor