Developmental plasticity of thermal tolerances in temperate and subtropical populations of Drosophila melanogaster

Brandon S. Cooper, Jeffery M. Tharp, Isaiah I. Jernberg, Michael J. Angilletta

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36 Scopus citations


Variation in temperature imposes selection pressures on organisms. In variable environments, organisms must adopt fixed or plastic strategies that enable persistence over a broad range of temperatures. In coarse-grained environments, where the thermal variation among generations exceeds that within generations, selection should favor developmental plasticity. Here, we compare the degree of developmental plasticity of thermal tolerances between populations of Drosophila melanogaster from environments with relatively high (Marlton, NJ, USA) and relatively low (Miami, FL, USA) variance in temperature among generations. We predicted that flies from Marlton would exhibit a greater plasticity of thermal tolerances than would flies from Miami. Flies from both populations were reared in three ecologically relevant treatments, after which we assessed knockdown and chill-coma recovery times. Flies from both populations responded plastically to temperature, but flies from New Jersey did not exhibit greater plasticity. Our results complement previous comparative studies and indicate that selection favors plasticity of thermal tolerances equally in these populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-216
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Thermal Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • Acclimation
  • Chill-coma recovery
  • Developmental plasticity
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Knockdown time
  • Temperature
  • Thermal tolerance


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