Background: Metabolomic responses to extreme thermal stress have recently been investigated in Drosophila melanogaster. However, a network level understanding of metabolomic responses to longer and less drastic temperature changes, which more closely reflect variation in natural ambient temperatures experienced during development and adulthood, is currently lacking. Here we use high-resolution, non-targeted metabolomics to dissect metabolomic changes in D. melanogaster elicited by moderately cool (18°C) or warm (27°C) developmental and adult temperature exposures.
Results: We find that temperature at which larvae are reared has a dramatic effect on metabolomic network structure measured in adults. Using network analysis, we are able to identify modules that are highly differentially expressed in response to changing developmental temperature, as well as modules whose correlation structure is strongly preserved across temperature.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that the effect of temperature on the metabolome provides an easily studied and powerful model for understanding the forces that influence invariance and plasticity in biological networks.