Adult plasticity of cold tolerance in a continental-temperate population of Drosophila suzukii

J Insect Physiol. 2015 Aug;79:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2015.05.003. Epub 2015 May 15.


Drosophila suzukii (Matsumura) (Diptera: Drosophilidae) is a worldwide emerging pest of soft fruits, but its cold tolerance has not been thoroughly explored. We determined the cold tolerance strategy, low temperature thermal limits, and plasticity of cold tolerance in both male and female adult D. suzukii. We reared flies under common conditions (long days, 21°C; control) and induced plasticity by rapid cold-hardening (RCH, 1h at 0°C followed by 1h recovery), cold acclimation (CA, 5 days at 6°C) or acclimation under fluctuating temperatures (FA). D. suzukii had supercooling points (SCPs) between -16 and -23°C, and were chill-susceptible. 80% of control flies were killed after 1h at -7.2°C (males) or -7.5°C (females); CA and FA improved survival of this temperature in both sexes, but RCH did not. 80% of control flies were killed after 70 h (male) or 92 h (female) at 0°C, and FA shifted this to 112 h (males) and 165 h (females). FA flies entered chill coma (CTmin) at approximately -1.7°C, which was ca. 0.5°C colder than control flies; RCH and CA increased the CTmin compared to controls. Control and RCH flies exposed to 0°C for 8h took 30-40 min to recover movement, but this was reduced to <10 min in CA and FA. Flies placed outside in a field cage in London, Ontario, were all killed by a transient cold snap in December. We conclude that adult phenotypic plasticity is not sufficient to allow D. suzukii to overwinter in temperate habitats, and suggest that flies could overwinter in association with built structures, or that there may be additional cold tolerance imparted by developmental plasticity.

Keywords: Chill coma; Cold tolerance; Fluctuating thermal regime; Phenotypic plasticity; Spotted wing drosophila; Winter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Ontario
  • Phenotype
  • Seasons