Drosophila immunity: QTL mapping, genetic variation and molecular evolution
Drosophila is involved in a wide range of interactions with parasites and pathogens (parasitoid wasps, bacteria, fungi, viruses). Drosophila hosts vary greatly at the species, population and individual level, in their response against such organisms, and much of this variation has a genetic basis. In this thesis I explored three aspects of this variation. First, using recombination mapping based on SNPs and a variation of bulk segregant analysis, I identified a QTL region on the right arm of the third chromosome of D. melanogaster associated with resistance to at least some of the parasitoid species / strains used in the experiments. The location of the QTL was further explored with deficiency complementation mapping and was narrowed down to the 96D1-97B1 region. The success of the deficiency mapping suggests that the resistant allele is not completely dominant. Second, I investigated patterns of molecular evolution in a set of immunity-related genes, using sequences from a D. melanogaster and a D. simulans population and a set of genes without known involvement in immunity for comparison. I found evidence that several of these genes have evolved under different selection pressure in each species, possibly indicating interactions with different parasites. The immunity genes tested appear to be evolving faster compared to non-immunity genes, supporting the idea that the immune system is evolving under strong selective pressure from parasites. Finally, in a D. melanogaster – sigma virus system, I measured genetic variation in the transmission of different virus genotypes, in different environments. There was poor correlation between temperatures, suggesting that environmental heterogeneity could constraint evolution of resistance (to virus transmission). The correlation between viral genotypes was also low, although relatively stronger for more closely phylogenetically related viral strains. Such interactions between host genotypes, virus genotypes and environmental conditions can maintain genetic variation in virus transmission.