Genetic polymorphisms underlying adaptive shifts in thermal responses are poorly known even though studies are providing a detailed understanding of these responses at the cellular and physiological levels. The Frost gene of Drosophila melanogaster is a prime candidate for thermal adaptation; it is up-regulated under cold stress and knockdown of this gene influences cold resistance. Here we describe an amino-acid INDEL polymorphism in proline repeat number in the structural component of this gene. The two main repeats, accounting for more than 90% of alleles in eastern Australia, show a strong clinal pattern; the 6P allele was at a high frequency in tropical locations, and the 10P allele was common in temperate populations. However, the frequency of these alleles was not associated with three different assays of cold resistance. Adult transcription level of Frost was also unrelated to cold resistance as measured through post chill coma mobility. The functional significance of the proline repeat polymorphism therefore remains unclear despite its clinal pattern. The data also demonstrate the feasibility of using Roche/454 sequencing for establishing clinal patterns.
- candidate gene