Environmental temperature plays a crucial role in determining a species distribution and abundance by affecting individual physiological processes, metabolic activities, and developmental rates. Many studies have identified clinal variation in phenotypes associated with response to environmental stresses, but variation in traits associated with climatic adaptation directly attributed to sequence variation within candidate gene regions has been difficult to identify. Insect heat shock genes are possible agents of thermal tolerance because of their involvement in protein folding, traffic, protection, and renaturation at the cellular level in response to temperature stress. Previously, members of the Drosophila small heat shock protein (sHSP) complex (Hsp23, Hsp26, Hsp27, Hsp67Ba) have been implicated as candidate climatic adaptation genes; therefore, this research examines sequence variation at these genes in 2 distant populations of Drosophila pseudoobscura. Flies from Tempe, AZ (n = 30) and Cheney, WA (n = 17) were used in the study. We identify high differentiation in the heat-shock complex (FST: 0.219**, 0.262*, 0.279***, 0.166 not significant) as compared with neighboring genes and Tajima's D values indicative of balancing selection (Mann-Whitney U = 38, n1 = 10 n2 = 4, P < 0.05 two-tailed), both of which are suggestive of such climatic adaptation.
- balancing selection
- environmental adaptability