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Publication by the Bergland Lab provides insight on how fruit flies survive the seasons

Post-cold hardening freeze tolerance varies seasonally in outdoor-caught flies but not in their lab-reared offspring.

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.

Stone, HM, Erickson, PA, Bergland, AO. Phenotypic plasticity, but not adaptive tracking, underlies seasonal variation in post‐cold hardening freeze tolerance of Drosophila melanogasterEcol Evol. 2019; 00: 1– 15.

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