Selection for desiccation resistance in adult Drosophila melanogaster affects larval development and metabolite accumulation

Eran Gefen, Anthony J. Marlon, Allen G. Gibbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We studied larval development and acquisition of metabolic resources in Drosophila melanogaster selected for adult desiccation resistance. Desiccation-selected (D) flies had longer developmental times in comparison with control populations, resulting in significantly higher body mass. No differences were found in larval growth rates, suggesting that increased body mass results from the extended larval feeding period. Larvae from both D and control lines molted from second to third instar 81-84 h after egg laying, whereas D larvae pupated 5-6 h later than controls. This indicates that selecting adults for desiccation resistance results in longer third larval instar. Newly eclosed D flies had higher carbohydrate and water contents in comparison with control populations. No differences were found in body mass, water or metabolite contents of newly eclosed selected and control flies after larvae were prevented from further feeding from 96 h after egg laying onwards. This shows that differences in accumulated carbohydrate and water stores are a result of evolved differences in the duration of third larval instar. The contribution of third instar feeding to desiccation resistance of adult selected flies is higher than that of controls. Thus, selection for adult stress resistance has resulted in correlated changes in larval physiology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3293-3300
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbohydrates
  • Critical weight
  • Desiccation resistance
  • Developmental time
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Life history
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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