Latitudinal body size clines in animals conforming to Bergmann's rule occur on many continents but isolating their underlying genetic basis remains a challenge. In Drosophila melanogaster, the gene Dca accounts for approximately 5-10% of the natural wing size variation (McKechnie SW, Blacket MJ, Song SV, Rako L, Carroll X, Johnson TK, Jensen LT, Lee SF, Wee CW, Hoffmann AA. 2010. A clinally varying promoter polymorphism associated with adaptive variation in wing size in Drosophila. Mol Ecol. 19:775-784). We present here functional evidence that Dca is a negative regulator of wing size. A significant negative latitudinal cline of Dca gene expression was detected in synchronized third instar larvae. In addition, we clarified the evolutionary history of the three most common Dca promoter alleles (Dca237-1, Dca237-2, and Dca247) and showed that the insertion allele (Dca247), whose frequency increases with latitude, is associated with larger wing centroid size and higher average cell number in male flies. Finally, we showed that the overall linkage disequilibrium (LD) was low in the Dca promoter and that the insertion/deletion polymorphism that defines the Dca alleles was in strong LD with two other upstream sites. Our results provide strong support that Dca is a candidate for climatic adaptation in D. melanogaster.
- body size
- Drosophila melanogaster