Genome-wide association of foraging behavior in Drosophila melanogaster fails to support large-effect alleles at the foraging gene
Thomas Turner, Christopher C Giauque, Daniel R Schrider, Andrew D Kern
Thirty four years ago, it was postulated that natural populations of Drosophila melanogaster are comprised of two behavioral morphs termed “rover” and “sitter”, and that this variation is caused mainly by large-effect alleles at a single locus. Since that time, considerable data has been amassed that compares the behavior and physiology of these morphs. Contrary to common assertions, however, published support for the existence of common large effect alleles in nature is quite limited. To further investigate, we quantified the foraging behavior of 36 natural strains, performed a genome-wide association study, and described patterns of molecular evolution at the foraging locus. Though there was significant variation in foraging behavior among genotypes, this variation was continuously distributed and not significantly associated with genetic variation at the foraging gene. Patterns of molecular population genetic variation at this gene also provide no support for the hypothesis that for is a target of long term balancing selection We propose that additional data is required to support a hypothesis of common alleles of large effect on foraging behavior in nature. Genome-wide association does support a role for natural variation at several other loci, including the sulfateless gene, though these associations should be considered preliminary until validated with a larger sample size.