Novel genetic capacitors and potentiators for the natural genetic variation of sensory bristles and their trait specificity in Drosophila melanogaster

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Cryptic genetic variation (CGV) is defined as the genetic variation that has little effect on phenotypic variation under a normal condition, but contributes to heritable variation under environmental or genetic perturbations. Genetic buffering systems that suppress the expression of CGV and store it in a population are called genetic capacitors, and the opposite systems are called genetic potentiators. One of the best-known candidates for a genetic capacitor and potentiator is the molecular chaperone protein, HSP90, and one of its characteristics is that it affects the genetic variation in various morphological traits. However, it remains unclear whether the wide-ranging effects of HSP90 on a broad range of traits are a general feature of genetic capacitors and potentiators. In the current study, I searched for novel genetic capacitors and potentiators for quantitative bristle traits of Drosophila melanogaster and then investigated the trait specificity of their genetic buffering effect. Three bristle traits of D. melanogaster were used as the target traits, and the genomic regions with genetic buffering effects were screened using the 61 genomic deficiencies examined previously for genetic buffering effects in wing shape. As a result, four and six deficiencies with significant effects on increasing and decreasing the broad-sense heritability of the bristle traits were identified, respectively. Of the 18 deficiencies with significant effects detected in the current study and/or by the previous study, 14 showed trait-specific effects, and four affected the genetic buffering of both bristle traits and wing shape. This suggests that most genetic capacitors and potentiators exert trait-specific effects, but that general capacitors and potentiators with effects on multiple traits also exist.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5561-5572
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2015



  • broad-sense heritability
  • cryptic genetic variation
  • evolutionary capacitor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics

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