Temperature Modulates Epidermal Cell Size in Drosophila Melanogaster

J Insect Physiol. 2002 Feb;48(2):231-237. doi: 10.1016/s0022-1910(01)00168-8.


Most ectotherms show increased body size at maturity when reared under colder temperatures. In principle, temperature could produce this outcome by influencing growth, proliferation and/or death of epidermal cells. Here we investigated the effects of rearing temperature on the cell size and cell number in the wing blade, the basitarsus of the leg and the cornea of the eye of Drosophila melanogaster from two populations at opposite ends of a South American latitudinal cline. We found that, in both strains of D. melanogaster and in both sexes, a decrease in rearing temperature increases the size of the wings, legs and eyes through an effect on epidermal cell size, with no significant change in cell number. Our results indicate that temperature has a consistent effect on cell size in the Drosophila epidermis and this may also apply to other cell types. In contrast, the evolutionary effects of temperature on the different organs are not consistent. We discuss our findings in the context of growth control in Drosophila.