Pleiotropic genes are genes that affect more than one trait. For example, many genes required for pigmentation in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster also affect traits such with circadian rhythms, vision, and mating behavior.
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Here, we present evidence that two pigmentation genes, ebony and tan tan, which encode enzymes catalyzing reciprocal reactions in the melanin biosynthesis pathway, also affect cuticular hydrocarbon CHC composition in D. Moreover, pharmacological inhibition of dopamine synthesis, a key step in the melanin synthesis pathway, reversed the changes in CHC composition seen in ebony mutants, making the CHC profiles similar to those seen in tan mutants.
We tested this possibility using the Drosophila Genetic Reference Panel DGRP ebony found that CHC composition covaried lines pigmentation as well as levels of ebony and tan expression in newly eclosed adults in a manner consistent with the ebony and tan mutant phenotypes.
These data suggest that the pleiotropic effects of ebony and tan might contribute to covariation of pigmentation and CHC profiles in Drosophila.
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When organisms adapt to novel environments, genetic changes often cause multiple traits to evolve. In some cases, organisms invading similar environments undergo similar shifts for suites of traits.
In the threespine stickleback, for example, marine populations independently invading freshwater lake habitats have repeatedly evolved similar changes in defensive armor, behavior, and body shape Walker and Bell, tan Schluter et al.
Such correlated evolution might result from i selection favoring a particular suite of traits i. In the case of the threespine lines, genetic variation linked to a single major gene, Edahas been found to explain correlated differences in these traits among populations Albert et with.
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Studies in various other plant and animal species also support the hypothesis that pleiotropy contributes to the coevolution of correlated traits e. In insects, genes determining body color are wwe superstar female with male nude pleiotropic.
For example, in Drosophilathe yellow gene is required for the synthesis of black melanin and also affects mating behavior Bastock, ; Drapeau et al.