Is diapause an ancient adaptation in Drosophila?

Valeria Zonato, Lewis Collins, Mirko Pegoraro, Eran Tauber, Charalambos P. Kyriacou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


D. melanogaster enters a state of reproductive arrest when exposed to low temperatures (12 °C) and shorter photoperiods. A number of studies have suggested that diapause has recently evolved in European D. melanogaster populations, that it is not present in the sibling species D. simulans, that it is non-photoperiodic in American D. melanogaster populations, and that it spontaneously terminates after 6–8 weeks. We have studied the overwintering phenotype under different conditions and observe that American, European and, surprisingly, African D. melanogaster populations can show photoperiodic diapause, as can European, but not African D. simulans. Surprisingly other Drosophila species from pan-tropical regions can also show significant levels of photoperiodic diapause. We observe that spontaneous termination of diapause after a few weeks can be largely avoided with a more realistic winter simulation for D. melanogaster, but not D. simulans. Examining metabolite accumulation during diapause reveals that the shallow diapause of D. melanogaster has similar features to that of other more robustly-diapausing species. Our results suggest that diapause may be an ancient character that emerged in the tropics to resist unfavourable seasonal conditions and which has been enhanced during D. melanogaster's colonisation of temperate regions. Our results also highlight how different methodologies to quantify diapause can lead to apparently conflicting results that we believe can now largely be resolved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-274
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Authors


  • Diapause
  • Drosophila
  • Seasonal
  • Termination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science
  • Physiology


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