Trudging through heat, rain, and snow in pursuit of fruit flies resulted in a recent publication for researchers of the Bergland Lab. Appearing in Ecology and Evolution, their multi-seasonal study revealed that the freeze tolerance of flies following a cold hardening treatment increases as outdoor temperatures decrease. Fruit flies, like some other arthropods, exhibit an increased tolerance to cold following exposure to cool temperatures, a phenomenon known as cold hardening. Researchers used a multi-generational analysis to determine that phenotypic plasticity, and not adaptive tracking, is responsible for the seasonal variation in this trait. The Bergland Lab also discovered that a number of factors other than temperature can induce plasticity in cold hardening. Their study provides insight into how arthropods cope with changes to their thermal environment, a topic which grows more pressing in our current era of climate change.
Figure caption: Post-cold hardening freeze tolerance varies seasonally in outdoor-caught flies but not in their lab-reared offspring.
Citation w/ link: Stone, HM, Erickson, PA, Bergland, AO. Phenotypic plasticity, but not adaptive tracking, underlies seasonal variation in post‐cold hardening freeze tolerance of Drosophila melanogaster. Ecol Evol. 2019; 00: 1– 15. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.5887