The genetic basis of natural variation in mushroom body size in Drosophila melanogaster

Liesbeth Zwarts, Lies Vanden Broeck, Elisa Cappuyns, Julien F. Ayroles, Michael M. Magwire, Veerle Vulsteke, Jason Clements, Trudy F.C. Mackay, Patrick Callaerts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Genetic variation in brain size may provide the basis for the evolution of the brain and complex behaviours. The genetic substrate and the selective pressures acting on brain size are poorly understood. Here we use the Drosophila Genetic Reference Panel to map polymorphic variants affecting natural variation in mushroom body morphology. We identify 139 genes and 39 transcription factors and confirm effects on development and adult plasticity. We show correlations between morphology and aggression, sleep and lifespan. We propose that natural variation in adult brain size is controlled by interaction of the environment with gene networks controlling development and plasticity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number10115
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Dec 11 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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