Sexual size dimorphism (SSD), a difference in body size between sexes, is common in many taxa. In insects, females are larger than males in >70% of all taxa in most orders. The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster is one prominent model organism to investigate SSD since its clear and representative female-biased SSD and its growth regulation are well studied. Elucidating the number and nature of genetic elements that can potentially influence SSD would be helpful in understanding the evolutionary potential of SSD. Here, we investigated the SSD pattern caused by artificially introduced genetic variation in D. melanogaster, and examined whether variation in SSD was mediated by the sex-specific modification of developmental time. To map the genomic regions that had effects on sexual wing size and/or developmental time differences (SDtD), we reanalyzed previously published genome-wide deficiency mapping data to evaluate the effects of 376 isogenic deficiencies covering a total of ~ 67% of the genomic regions of the second and third chromosomes of D. melanogaster. We found genetic variation in SSD and SDtD generated by genomic deficiencies, and a negative genetic correlation between size and development time. We also found SSD and SDtD allometries that are not qualitatively congruent, which however overall at best only partly help in explaining the patterns found. We identified several genomic deficiencies with the tendency to either exaggerate or suppress SSD, in agreement with quantitative genetic null expectations of many loci with small effects. These novel findings contribute to a better understanding of the evolutionary potential of sexual dimorphism.
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