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J Insect Physiol. 2008 Apr;54(4):708-18. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2008.01.011. Epub 2008 Feb 7.

Short-term hardening effects on survival of acute and chronic cold exposure by Drosophila melanogaster larvae.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ont., Canada N6A 5B7.


We quantified the variation and plasticity in cold tolerance among four larval stages of four laboratory strains of Drosophila melanogaster in response to both acute (<2h of cold exposure) and chronic ( approximately 7h of cold exposure) cold exposure. We observed significant differences in basal cold tolerance between the strains and among larval stages. Early larval instars were generally more tolerant of acute cold exposures than third-instar larvae. However, wandering larvae were more tolerant of chronic cold exposures than the other stages. Early stages also displayed a more pronounced rapid cold-hardening response than the later stages. Heat pre-treatment did not confer a significant increase in cold tolerance to any of the strains at any stage, pointing to different mechanisms being involved in resolving heat- and cold-elicited damage. However, when heat pre-treatment was combined with rapid cold-hardening as sequential pre-treatments, both positive (heat first) and negative (heat second) effects on cold tolerance were observed. We discuss possible mechanisms underlying cold-hardening and the effects of acute and chronic cold exposures.

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