Adaptive plasticity in various Drosophila species comprising generalist and specialist species.

Increased anthropogenic activities have led to strong detrimental effects on the environment leading to climate change. Rise in global temperature and gaseous pollutants disturb the ecological interaction and the insect biodiversity. Pollutants such as ozone (O3) and nitrous oxide (NOx) are released into the atmosphere and directly affect the odor blend composition due to their oxidative power (Farré-Armengol et al. 2016). A recent study from our lab showed that levels of ozone found in rural areas disrupt the innate attraction of the tobacco hawkmoth Manduca sexta to the odor of one of its preferred flowers (Cook et al. 2020). However, this study showed that moths are able to learn ozone-altered floral odors through reward learning. Therefore, we speculate that insects such as Drosophilids might also possess similar ability in coping with anthropogenic pollutants. We will study the effect of ozonated and/or polluted odors on the behavior of “generalists” (Drosophilids that live in a wide ecological niche) and “specialists” (Drosophilids that live in a particular place). We hypothesize that “generalists” could adapt better than “specialists” in an increasingly polluted atmosphere. The objective of the project is to study the adaptations and plasticity of various drosophilids in response to pollutants.

Postdoctoral Researcher: Somasundar Amurugam (MPI-CE)

Supervision: Dr Silke Sachse (MPI-CE), Dr Markus Knaden (MPI-CE), Dr Sharon Hill (SLU), Dr Rickard Ignell (SLU) and Dr Marcus Stensmyr (LU)



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