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Seasonal cues induce phenotypic plasticity of Drosophila suzukii to enhance winter survival Public Deposited

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  • Background: As global climate change and exponential human population growth intensifies pressure on agricultural systems, the need to effectively manage invasive insect pests is becoming increasingly important to global food security. Drosophila suzukii is an invasive pest that drastically expanded its global range in a very short time since 2008, spreading to most areas in North America and many countries in Europe and South America. Preliminary ecological modeling predicted a more restricted distribution and, for this reason, the invasion of D. suzukii to northern temperate regions is especially unexpected. Investigating D. suzukii phenology and seasonal adaptations can lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms through which insects express phenotypic plasticity, which likely enables invasive species to successfully colonize a wide range of environments. Results: We describe seasonal phenotypic plasticity in field populations of D. suzukii. Specifically, we observed a trend of higher proportions of flies with the winter morph phenotype, characterized by darker pigmentation and longer wing length, as summer progresses to winter. A laboratory-simulated winter photoperiod and temperature (12:12 L:D and 10°C) were sufficient to induce the winter morph phenotype in D. suzukii. This winter morph is associated with increased survival at 1°C when compared to the summer morph, thus explaining the ability of D. suzukii to survive cold winters. We then used RNA sequencing to identify gene expression differences underlying seasonal differences in D. suzukii physiology. Winter morph gene expression is consistent with known mechanisms of cold-hardening such as adjustments to ion transport and up-regulation of carbohydrate metabolism. In addition, transcripts involved in oogenesis and DNA replication were down-regulated in the winter morph, providing the first molecular evidence of a reproductive diapause in D. suzukii. Conclusions: To date, D. suzukii cold resistance studies suggest that this species cannot overwinter in northern locations, e.g. Canada, even though they are established pests in these regions. Combining physiological investigations with RNA sequencing, we present potential mechanisms by which D. suzukii can overwinter in these regions. This work may contribute to more accurate population models that incorporate seasonal variation in physiological parameters, leading to development of better management strategies.
  • Availability of supporting data: The RNA sequencing data sets supporting the results of this article are available in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) repository. [Bio- Project PRJNA294845   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/bioproject/PRJNA294845/ , and Sequence Read Archives SRS1057327 (summer bodies)   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sra/?term=SRS1057327/;SRS1057275 (summer heads)   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sra/?term=SRS1057275/;SRS1057328 (winter bodies)   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sra/?term=SRS1057328/;SRS1057296 (winter heads)   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sra/?term=SRS1057296/ ]. NCBI accession for individual replicates are also provided in Additional file 2: Table S1.
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  • Shearer, P. W., West, J. D., Walton, V. M., Brown, P. H., Svetec, N., & Chiu, J. C. (2016). Seasonal cues induce phenotypic plasticity of Drosophila suzukii to enhance winter survival. BMC Ecology, 16, 11. doi:10.1186/s12898-016-0070-3
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  • 16
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  • This work was supported by funds received from the USDA Specialty Crops Research Initiative Grant (award number 2010-51181-21167) awarded to PWS and VMW, and the Clarence and Estelle Albaugh Endowment and NSF IOS-1456297 to JCC. JDW is a participant of the BUSP Program at UC Davis, which is supported by NIH-IMSD GM56765 and HHMI Grant 52005892, and a participant of BSHARP program, supported by NIGMS-MARC-U-STAR GM083894.
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