Distinct cold tolerance traits independently vary across genotypes in Drosophila melanogaster

Mark J. Garcia, Aerianna S. Littler, Aditya Sriram, Nicholas M. Teets

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Cold tolerance, the ability to cope with low temperature stress, is a critical adaptation in thermally variable environments. An individual's cold tolerance comprises several traits including minimum temperatures for growth and activity, ability to survive severe cold, and ability to resume normal function after cold subsides. Across species, these traits are correlated, suggesting they were shaped by shared evolutionary processes or possibly share physiological mechanisms. However, the extent to which cold tolerance traits and their associated mechanisms covary within populations has not been assessed. We measured five cold tolerance traits—critical thermal minimum, chill coma recovery, short- and long-term cold tolerance, and cold-induced changes in locomotor behavior—along with cold-induced expression of two genes with possible roles in cold tolerance (heat shock protein 70 and frost)—across 12 lines of Drosophila melanogaster derived from a single population. We observed significant genetic variation in all traits, but few were correlated across genotypes, and these correlations were sex-specific. Further, cold-induced gene expression varied by genotype, but there was no evidence supporting our hypothesis that cold-hardy lines would have either higher baseline expression or induction of stress genes. These results suggest cold tolerance traits possess unique mechanisms and have the capacity to evolve independently.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1437-1450
Number of pages14
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. Evolution © 2020 The Society for the Study of Evolution.


  • Cold tolerance
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • frost
  • genetic variation
  • heat-shock proteins
  • trait correlation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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