Laboratory diet influences cold tolerance in a genotype-dependent manner in Drosophila melanogaster

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Cold stress can reduce insect fitness and is an important determinant of species distributions and responses to climate change. Cold tolerance is influenced by genotype and environmental conditions, with factors such as day length and temperature having a particularly strong influence. Recent studies also indicate that diet impacts cold tolerance, but it is unclear whether diet-mediated shifts in cold tolerance are consistent across distinct genotypes. The goal of this study was to determine the extent to which commonly used artificial diets influence cold tolerance in Drosophila melanogaster, and whether these effects are consistent across genetically distinct lines. Specifically, we tested the impact of different fly diets on 1) ability to survive cold stress, 2) critical thermal minimum (CTmin), and 3) the ability to maintain reproduction after cold stress. Experiments were conducted across six isogenic lines from the Drosophila Genetic Reference Panel, and these lines were reared on different fly diets. Cold shock survival, CTmin, and reproductive output pre- and post-cold exposure varied considerably across diet and genotype combinations, suggesting strong genotype by environment interactions shape nutritionally mediated changes in cold tolerance. For example, in some lines cold shock survival remained consistently high or low across diets, while in others cold shock survival ranged from 5% to 75% depending on diet. Ultimately, these results add to a growing literature that cold tolerance is shaped by complex interactions between genotype and environment and inform practical considerations when selecting a laboratory diet for thermal tolerance experiments in Drosophila.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110948
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology -Part A : Molecular and Integrative Physiology
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Inc.


  • Cold tolerance
  • Diet
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Nutrition
  • Reproduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology


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