When a Fly Has to Fly to Reproduce: Selection Against Conditional Recessive Lethals in Drosophila

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We propose an experimental model suitable for demonstrating allele frequency change in Drosophila melanogaster populations caused by selection against an easily scorable conditional lethal, namely recessive flightless alleles such as apterous and vestigial. Homozygotes for these alleles are excluded from reproduction because the food source used to establish each generation is accessible only by flight. The observed dynamics of flightless-allele frequencies generally follows the theoretically predicted pattern, with slight deviation toward less intense selection. We also suggest observing selection against flightindependent visible marker alleles in the same population as a meaningful comparison. The proposed experiments can easily be scheduled within one semester, and the expected data provide ample opportunities for discussion of quantitative evolutionary patterns.