Inbreeding increases homozygosity, which is known to affect the mean and variance of fitness components such as growth, fecundity and mortality rate. Across inbred lines inbreeding depression is typically observed and the variance between lines is increased in inbred compared to outbred lines. It has been suggested that damage incurred from increased homozygosity entails energetic cost associated with cellular repair. However, little is known about the effects of inbreeding on standard metabolic rate. Using stop-flow respirometry we performed repeated measurements of metabolic rate in replicated lines of inbred and outbred Drosophila melanogaster at stressful low, benign and stressful high temperatures. The lowest measurements of metabolic rate in our study are always associated with the low activity period of the diurnal cycle and these measurements therefore serve as good estimates of standard metabolic rate. Due to the potentially added costs of genetic stress in inbred lines we hypothesized that inbred individuals have increased metabolic rate compared to outbred controls and that this is more pronounced at stressful temperatures due to synergistic inbreeding by environment interactions. Contrary to our hypothesis we found no significant difference in metabolic rate between inbred and outbred lines and no interaction between inbreeding and temperature. Inbreeding however effected the variance; the variance in metabolic rate was higher between the inbred lines compared to the outbred control lines with some inbred lines having very high or low standard metabolic rate. Thus genetic drift and not inbreeding per se seem to explain variation in metabolic rate in populations of different size.
Journal of Insect Physiology, 2014, Vol 62, p. 11-20