How consistent are the transcriptome changes associated with cold acclimation in two species of the Drosophila virilis group?

Heredity (Edinb). 2015 Jul;115(1):13-21. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2015.6. Epub 2015 Feb 11.


For many organisms the ability to cold acclimate with the onset of seasonal cold has major implications for their fitness. In insects, where this ability is widespread, the physiological changes associated with increased cold tolerance have been well studied. Despite this, little work has been done to trace changes in gene expression during cold acclimation that lead to an increase in cold tolerance. We used an RNA-Seq approach to investigate this in two species of the Drosophila virilis group. We found that the majority of genes that are differentially expressed during cold acclimation differ between the two species. Despite this, the biological processes associated with the differentially expressed genes were broadly similar in the two species. These included: metabolism, cell membrane composition, and circadian rhythms, which are largely consistent with previous work on cold acclimation/cold tolerance. In addition, we also found evidence of the involvement of the rhodopsin pathway in cold acclimation, a pathway that has been recently linked to thermotaxis. Interestingly, we found no evidence of differential expression of stress genes implying that long-term cold acclimation and short-term stress response may have a different physiological basis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila / physiology
  • Female
  • Genes, Insect
  • Genetic Fitness
  • Multigene Family
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Species Specificity
  • Transcriptome*

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE58925