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Data from: Phenotypic plasticity, but not adaptive tracking, underlies seasonal variation in post-cold hardening freeze tolerance of Drosophila melanogaster

Citation

Stone, Helen; Erickson, Priscilla; Bergland, Alan (2020), Data from: Phenotypic plasticity, but not adaptive tracking, underlies seasonal variation in post-cold hardening freeze tolerance of Drosophila melanogaster, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.bzkh1894v

Abstract

    In temperate regions, an organism’s ability to rapidly adapt to seasonally varying environments is essential for its survival. In response to seasonal changes in selection pressure caused by variation in temperature, humidity, and food availability, some organisms exhibit plastic changes in phenotype. In other cases, seasonal variation in selection pressure can rapidly increase the frequency of genotypes that offer survival or reproductive advantages under the current conditions. Little is known about the relative influences of plastic and genetic changes in short lived organisms experiencing seasonal environmental fluctuations. Cold hardening is a seasonally relevant plastic response in which exposure to cool, but nonlethal, temperatures significantly increases the organism’s ability to later survive at freezing temperatures. In the present study, we demonstrate seasonal variation in cold hardening in Drosophila melanogaster and test the extent to which plasticity and adaptive tracking underlie that seasonal variation. We measured the post-cold hardening freeze tolerance of flies from outdoor mesocosms over the summer, fall, and winter. We bred outdoor mesocosm-caught flies for two generations in the lab and matched each outdoor cohort to an indoor control cohort of similar genetic background. We cold hardened all flies under controlled laboratory conditions and then measured their post-cold hardening freeze tolerance. Comparing indoor and field-caught flies and their laboratory-reared G1 and G2 progeny allowed us to determine the roles of seasonal environmental plasticity, parental effects, and genetic changes on cold hardening. We also tested the relationship between cold hardening and other factors, including age, developmental density, food substrate, presence of antimicrobials, and supplementation with live yeast. We found strong plastic responses to a variety of field- and lab-based environmental effects, but no evidence of seasonally varying parental or genetic effects on cold hardening. We therefore conclude that seasonal variation in post-cold hardening freeze tolerance results from environmental influences and not genetic changes.