We examined the genetic architecture of plasticity of thorax and wing length in response to temperature in Drosophila melanogaster. Reaction norms as a function of growth temperature were analyzed in 20 isofemale lines in a natural population collected from Grande Ferrade near Bordeaux (southern France) in two different years. We found evidence for a complex genetic architecture underlying the reaction norms and differences between males and females. Reaction norms were negative quadratics. Genetic correlations were moderately high between traits within environments. Among characteristic values, the magnitudes of genetic correlations varied among traits and sexes. We hypothesized that genetic correlations among environments would decrease as temperatures became more different. This expectation was upheld for only one trait, female thorax length. For males for both traits, the correlations were large for both very similar and very different temperatures. These correlations may constrain the evolution of the shape of the reaction norms. Whether the extent of independence implies specific regulatory genes or only a specific allelic regulation of trait genes can not be decided from our results.
Corresponding Editor: T. Mousseau