G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics (2019-09-01)

Genome-Wide Association Analysis of Anoxia Tolerance in Drosophila melanogaster

  • Jacob B. Campbell,
  • Paula F. Overby,
  • Alyx E. Gray,
  • Hunter C. Smith,
  • Jon F. Harrison

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 9, no. 9
pp. 2989 – 2999


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As the genetic bases to variation in anoxia tolerance are poorly understood, we used the Drosophila Genetics Reference Panel (DGRP) to conduct a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of anoxia tolerance in adult and larval Drosophila melanogaster. Survival ranged from 0–100% in adults exposed to 6 h of anoxia and from 20–98% for larvae exposed to 1 h of anoxia. Anoxia tolerance had a broad-sense heritability of 0.552 in adults and 0.433 in larvae. Larval and adult phenotypes were weakly correlated but the anoxia tolerance of adult males and females were strongly correlated. The GWA identified 180 SNPs in adults and 32 SNPs in larvae associated with anoxia tolerance. Gene ontology enrichment analysis indicated that many of the 119 polymorphic genes associated with adult anoxia-tolerance were associated with ionic transport or immune function. In contrast, the 22 polymorphic genes associated with larval anoxia-tolerance were mostly associated with regulation of transcription and DNA replication. RNAi of mapped genes generally supported the hypothesis that disruption of these genes reduces anoxia tolerance. For two ion transport genes, we tested predicted directional and sex-specific effects of SNP alleles on adult anoxia tolerance and found strong support in one case but not the other. Correlating our phenotype to prior DGRP studies suggests that genes affecting anoxia tolerance also influence stress-resistance, immune function and ionic balance. Overall, our results provide evidence for multiple new potential genetic influences on anoxia tolerance and provide additional support for important roles of ion balance and immune processes in determining variation in anoxia tolerance.