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Acclimation, duration and intensity of cold exposure determine the rate of cold stress accumulation and mortality in Drosophila suzukii

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The spotted wing drosophila (SWD), Drosophila suzukii, is a major invasive fruit pest. There is strong consensus that low temperature is among the main drivers of SWD population distribution, and the invasion success of SWD is also linked to its thermal plasticity. Most studies on ectotherm cold tolerance focus on exposure to a single stressful temperature but here we investigated how cold stress intensity affected survival duration across a broad range of low temperatures (−7 to +3 °C). The analysis of Lt50 at different stressful temperatures (Thermal Death Time curve - TDT) is based on the suggestion that cold injury accumulation rate increases exponentially with the intensity of thermal stress. In accordance with the hypothesis, Lt50 of SWD decreased exponentially with temperature. Further, comparison of TDT curves from flies acclimated to 15, 19 and 23 °C, respectively, showed an almost full compensation with acclimation such that the temperature required to induce mortality over a fixed time decreased almost 1 °C per °C lowering of acclimation temperature. Importantly, this change in cold tolerance with acclimation was uniform across the range of moderate to intense cold stress exposures examined. To understand if cold stress at moderate and intense exposures affects the same physiological systems we examined how physiological markers/symptoms of chill injury developed at different intensities of the cold stress. Specifically, hsp23 expression and extracellular [K+] were measured in flies exposed to different intensities of cold stress (−6, −2 and +2 °C) and at various time points corresponding to the same progression of injury (equivalent to 1/3, 2/3 or 3/3 of Lt50). The different cold stress intensities all triggered hsp23 expression following 2 h of recovery, but patterns of expression differed. At the most intense cold stress (−6 and −2 °C) a gradual increase with time was found. In contrast, at +2 °C an initial increase was followed by a dissipating expression. A gradual perturbation of ion balance (hyperkalemia) was also found at all three cold stress intensities examined, with only slight dissimilarities between treatment temperatures. Despite some differences between the three cold intensities examined, the results generally support the hypothesis that intense and moderate cold stress induces the same physiological perturbation. This suggests that cold stress experienced during natural fluctuating conditions is additive and the results also illustrate that the rate of injury accumulation increases dramatically (exponentially) with decreasing temperature (increasing stress).

Original languageEnglish
Article number104323
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors

    Research areas

  • Chill tolerance, Heat shock proteins, Hyperkalemia, Invasive species, Ion balance, Thermal death time curves

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