Cold stress results in sustained locomotor and behavioral deficits in Drosophila melanogaster

Mark J. Garcia, Nicholas M. Teets

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Tolerance of climatic stressors is an important predictor of the current distribution of insect species, their potential to invade new environments, and their responses to rapid climate change. Cold stress causes acute injury to nerves and muscles, and here we tested the hypothesis that low temperature causes sublethal deficits in locomotor behaviors that are dependent on neuromuscular function. To do so, we applied a previously developed assay, the rapid iterative negative geotaxis (RING) assay, to investigate behavioral consequences of cold stress in Drosophila melanogaster. The RING assay allows for rapid assessment of negative geotaxis behavior by quantifying climbing height and willingness to climb after cold stress. We exposed flies to cold stress at 0°C and assessed the extent to which duration of cold stress, recovery time, and cold acclimation influenced climbing performance. There was a clear dose-response relationship between cold exposure and performance deficits, with climbing height and willingness decreasing as cold exposure increased from 2 to 24 hr. Following cold exposure of an intermediate duration (12 hr), climbing height and willingness gradually improved as recovery time increased from 4 to 72 hr but flies never fully recovered. Finally, cold acclimation improved overall climbing height and willingness in both untreated and cold-stressed flies but did not prevent a reduction in climbing performance. Thus, cold stress causes deficits in locomotor and behavior that are dependent on the dose of cold exposure and persist long after the stress subsides. These results likely have implications for the ecological and evolutionary responses of insect populations to thermally variable environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-200
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological and Integrative Physiology
Volume331
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Kate Cox for her assistance in performing a pilot study for these experiments. We would also like to thank members of the ‘Teets’ and Rittschof lab for their reviews and comments of this manuscript during its drafting, and three anonymous reviewers for their input as well. This study was supported by an AFRI Competitive Grant (Award #2015-67012-25339), AFRI Post-Doctoral Fellowship (Award #2018-67012-28000), and Hatch Project under 1010996 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. This is publication #18-08-065 of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station and is published with the approval of the Director.

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Kate Cox for her assistance in performing a pilot study for these experiments. We would also like to thank members of the ‘Teets’ and Rittschof lab for their reviews and comments of this manuscript during its drafting, and three anonymous reviewers for their input as well. This study was supported by an AFRI Competitive Grant (Award #2015‐67012‐ 25339), AFRI Post‐Doctoral Fellowship (Award #2018‐67012‐ 28000), and Hatch Project under 1010996 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. This is publication #18‐08‐065 of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station and is published with the approval of the Director.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords

  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • behavior
  • cold stress
  • locomotion
  • thermal tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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