A Latitudinal Cline in a Drosophila Clock Gene

Rodolfo Costa, Alexandre A. Peixoto, Guido Barbujani, Charalambos P. Kyriacou

Abstract

The clock gene period determines biological rhythmicity in Drosophila melanogaster and encodes a protein characterized by an alternating series of threonine-glycine pairs. The minisatellite region encoding the threonine-glycine repeat is polymorphic in length in natural Drosophila melanogaster populations. In this paper we report the geographical analysis of this polymorphism within Europe and North Africa. A robust clinal pattern is observed along a north-south axis. We suggest the possibility that the length polymorphism could be maintained by thermal selection because the threonine-glycine region has been shown to provide thermostability to the circadian phenotype.