Coping with daily and seasonal temperature fluctuations is a key adaptive process for species to colonize temperate regions all over the globe. Over the past 18,000 years, the tropical species Drosophila ananassae expanded its home range from tropical regions in Southeast Asia to more temperate regions. Phenotypic assays of chill coma recovery time (CCRT) together with previously published population genetic data suggest that only a small number of genes underlie improved cold hardiness in the cold-adapted populations. We used high-throughput RNA sequencing to analyze differential gene expression before and after exposure to a cold shock in coldtolerant lines (those with fast chill coma recovery, CCR) and cold-sensitive lines (slow CCR) from a population originating from Bangkok, Thailand (the ancestral species range). We identified two candidate genes with a significant interaction between cold tolerance and cold shock treatment: GF14647 and GF15058. Further, our data suggest that selection for increased cold tolerance did not operate through the increased activity of heat shock proteins, but more likely through the stabilization of the actin cytoskeleton and a delayed onset of apoptosis.
Keywords: Drosophila ananassae; RNA sequencing; actin polymerization; adaptation; apoptosis; chill coma recovery time; cold tolerance; heat shock proteins.