Evolution of starvation resistance in Drosophila melanogaster: Aspects of metabolism and counter-impact selection

Lawrence G. Harshman, Jeana L. Schmid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


An artificial selection experiment for increased female starvation resistance employed five selected lines and five control lines of Drosophila melanogaster. Females responded to selection within the first five generations, but a substantial male response was not observed until starvation resistance was assessed at generation 15. By measuring respiration rate in selected and control lines, it was possible to test the hypothesis that reduced metabolic rate is a general mechanism for stress resistance. There was no association between starvation resistance and respiration rate and thus no support for the hypothesis. Studies using vertebrates have shown that starvation causes a decrease in intermediary metabolism enzyme activity, but this relationship is not well documented in invertebrates. In the present study, intermediary metabolism enzyme activities decreased in response to starvation in control-line females and males, and in selected-line males. However, the selected females showed no overall decrease in enzyme activities in response to starvation. One interpretation is that selected females evolved to resist the phenotypic impact of stress. The concept of 'counter-impact selection' is discussed in relationship to the use of phenotypic manipulations for the study of evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1679-1685
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1998


  • Artificial selection
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Intermediary metabolism enzymes
  • Metabolic rate
  • Starvation
  • Starvation resistance
  • Stress resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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