Genetic variation is prevalent among individuals of the same species and yet the potential effects of genetic variation on developmental outcomes are frequently suppressed. Understanding the mechanisms that are responsible for this suppression is an important goal. Previously, we found that the microRNA miR-9a mitigates the impact of natural genetic variants that promote the development of scutellar bristles in adult Drosophila. Here we find that miR-9a does not affect the impact of genetic variants that inhibit the development of scutellar bristles. We show this using both directional and stabilizing selection in the laboratory. This specificity of action suggests that miR-9a does not interact with all functional classes of developmental genetic variants affecting sensory organ development. We also investigate the impact of miR-9a on a fitness trait, which is adult viability. At elevated physiological temperatures, miR-9a contributes to viability through masking genetic variants that hinder adult viability. We conclude that miR-9a activity in different developmental networks contributes to suppression of natural variants from perturbing development.
- Sensory organs
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