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Cellular basis of morphological variation and temperature-related plasticity in Drosophila melanogaster strains with divergent wing shapes

Torquato, Libéria Souza, Mattos, Daniel, Matta, Bruna Palma, Bitner-Mathé, Blanche Christine
Genetica 2014 v.142 no.6 pp. 495-505
Drosophila melanogaster, adults, artificial selection, phenotypic plasticity, rearing, selection response, temperature, wings
Organ shape evolves through cross-generational changes in developmental patterns at cellular and/or tissue levels that ultimately alter tissue dimensions and final adult proportions. Here, we investigated the cellular basis of an artificially selected divergence in the outline shape of Drosophila melanogaster wings, by comparing flies with elongated or rounded wing shapes but with remarkably similar wing sizes. We also tested whether cellular plasticity in response to developmental temperature was altered by such selection. Results show that variation in cellular traits is associated with wing shape differences, and that cell number may play an important role in wing shape response to selection. Regarding the effects of developmental temperature, a size-related plastic response was observed, in that flies reared at 16 °C developed larger wings with larger and more numerous cells across all intervein regions relative to flies reared at 25 °C. Nevertheless, no conclusive indication of altered phenotypic plasticity was found between selection strains for any wing or cellular trait. We also described how cell area is distributed across different intervein regions. It follows that cell area tends to decrease along the anterior wing compartment and increase along the posterior one. Remarkably, such pattern was observed not only in the selected strains but also in the natural baseline population, suggesting that it might be canalized during development and was not altered by the intense program of artificial selection for divergent wing shapes.