Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Journal articles

Eco‐genetics of desiccation resistance in Drosophila

Abstract : Climate change globally perturbs water circulation thereby influencing ecosystems including cultivated land. Both harmful and beneficial species of insects are likely to be vulnerable to such changes in climate. As small animals with a disadvantageous surface area to body mass ratio, they face a risk of desiccation. A number of behavioural, physiological and genetic strategies are deployed to solve these problems during adaptation in various Drosophila species. Over 100 desiccation-related genes have been identified in laboratory and wild populations of the cosmopolitan fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and its sister species in large-scale and single-gene approaches. These genes are involved in water sensing and homeostasis, and barrier formation and function via the production and composition of surface lipids and via pigmentation. Interestingly, the genetic strategy implemented in a given population appears to be unpredictable. In part, this may be due to different experimental approaches in different studies. The observed variability may also reflect a rich standing genetic variation in Drosophila allowing a quasi-random choice of response strategies through soft-sweep events, although further studies are needed to unravel any underlying principles. These findings underline that D. melanogaster is a robust species well adapted to resist climate change-related desiccation. The rich data obtained in Drosophila research provide a framework to address and understand desiccation resistance in other insects. Through the application of powerful genetic tools in the model organism D. melanogaster, the functions of desiccation-related genes revealed by correlative studies can be tested and the underlying molecular mechanisms of desiccation tolerance understood. The combination of the wealth of available data and its genetic accessibility makes Drosophila an ideal bioindicator. Accumulation of data on desiccation resistance in Drosophila may allow us to create a world map of genetic evolution in response to climate change in an insect genome. Ultimately these efforts may provide guidelines for dealing with the effects of climate-related perturbations on insect population dynamics in the future.
Complete list of metadata
Contributor : Sabine Julien <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, May 26, 2021 - 2:50:05 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, June 9, 2021 - 10:07:27 AM



Yiwen Wang, Jean‐françois Ferveur, Bernard Moussian. Eco‐genetics of desiccation resistance in Drosophila. Biological Reviews, Wiley, In press, pp.1-20. ⟨10.1111/brv.12709⟩. ⟨hal-03236982⟩



Record views