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Title: The metabolome as a link in the genotype-phenotype map for peroxide resistance in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster
Abstract Background

Genetic association studies that seek to explain the inheritance of complex traits typically fail to explain a majority of the heritability of the trait under study. Thus, we are left with a gap in the map from genotype to phenotype. Several approaches have been used to fill this gap, including those that attempt to map endophenotype such as the transcriptome, proteome or metabolome, that underlie complex traits. Here we used metabolomics to explore the nature of genetic variation for hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) resistance in the sequenced inbredDrosophilaGenetic Reference Panel (DGRP).


We first studied genetic variation for H2O2resistance in 179 DGRP lines and along with identifying the insulin signaling modulatoru-shapedand several regulators of feeding behavior, we estimate that a substantial amount of phenotypic variation can be explained by a polygenic model of genetic variation. We then profiled a portion of the aqueous metabolome in subsets of eight ‘high resistance’ lines and eight ‘low resistance’ lines. We used these lines to represent collections of genotypes that were either resistant or sensitive to the stressor, effectively modeling a discrete trait. Across the range of genotypes in both populations, flies exhibited surprising consistency in their metabolomic signature of resistance. Importantly, the resistance phenotype more » of these flies was more easily distinguished by their metabolome profiles than by their genotypes. Furthermore, we found a metabolic response to H2O2in sensitive, but not in resistant genotypes. Metabolomic data further implicated at least two pathways, glycogen and folate metabolism, as determinants of sensitivity to H2O2. We also discovered a confounding effect of feeding behavior on assays involving supplemented food.


This work suggests that the metabolome can be a point of convergence for genetic variation influencing complex traits, and can efficiently elucidate mechanisms underlying trait variation.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
BMC Genomics
Springer Science + Business Media
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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