Transcriptional profiles of plasticity for desiccation stress in Drosophila

Allannah S. Clemson, Carla M. Sgrò, Marina Telonis-Scott

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2 Citations (Scopus)


We examined the transcriptional responses of desiccation resistance candidate genes in populations of Drosophila melanogaster divergent for desiccation resistance and in capacity to improve resistance via phenotypic plasticity. Adult females from temperate and tropical eastern Australian populations were exposed to a rapid desiccation hardening (RDH) treatment, and groups without RDH to acute desiccation stress, and the transcript expression of 12 candidate desiccation genes were temporally profiled during, and in recovery from stress. We found that desiccation exposure resulted in largely transitory, stress-specific transcriptional changes in all but one gene. However linking the expression profiles to the population-level phenotypic divergence was difficult given subtle, and time-point specific population expression variation. Nonetheless, rapid desiccation hardening had the largest effect on gene expression, resulting in distinct molecular profiles. We report a hitherto uncharacterised desiccation molecular hardening response where prior exposure essentially ‘primes’ genes to respond to subsequent stress without discernible transcript changes prior to stress. This, taken together with some population gene expression variation of several bona fide desiccation candidates associated with different water balance strategies speaks of the complexity of natural desiccation resistance and plasticity and provides new avenues for understanding the molecular basis of a trait of ecological significance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part B: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • Desiccation
  • Drosophila
  • Gene expression
  • Hardening
  • Plasticity

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