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J Insect Physiol. 2004 Aug;50(8):695-700.

Dissecting chill coma recovery as a measure of cold resistance: evidence for a biphasic response in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research (CESAR), Department of Genetics, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3010, Australia.


Cold resistance in insects has traditionally been measured in terms of survival following a stress, but alternative methods are increasingly being used because of their relevance to the ecology of organisms and their utility in characterizing variation among species, populations and individuals. One such method capable of discriminating among Drosophila species and conspecific Drosophila populations from different environments is adult chill coma recovery time, the time taken for adults to become active again after being knocked down by a cold stress. Here we characterized the chill coma response of D. melanogaster in detail. Adults were exposed to a range of temperatures and stressful periods prior to measuring recovery. Recovery from chill coma in D. melanogaster was biphasic; as flies were stressed under cooler temperatures, recovery times leveled off and then decreased before sharply increasing again as mortality starts to occur. This biphasic response has previously been observed in D. subobscura where it has a somewhat different shape. A second mechanism therefore acts at relatively lower temperatures to ameliorate the effects of the cold stress. When D. melanogaster were reared at 19 and 25 degrees C for two generations, the shape of the curve relating temperature to recovery time was similar, but flies from the warmer temperature had longer recovery times and showed responses that leveled off and then decreased at relatively higher temperatures. As exposure time to cold stress was increased, recovery times also increased except at mild stress levels. Chill coma recovery in D. melanogaster is a complex trait and likely to reflect multiple underlying components.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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