Impacts of thermal fluctuations on heat tolerance and its metabolomic basis in Arabidopsis thaliana, Drosophila melanogaster, and Orchesella cincta

Natasja Krog Noer*, Majken Pagter, Simon Bahrndorff, Anders Malmendal, Torsten Nygaard Kristensen

*Corresponding author

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Temperature varies on a daily and seasonal scale and thermal fluctuations are predicted to become even more pronounced under future climate changes. Studies suggest that plastic responses are crucial for species’ ability to cope with thermal stress including variability in temperature, but most often laboratory studies on thermal adaptation in plant and ectotherm organisms are performed at constant temperatures and few species included. Recent studies using fluctuating thermal regimes find that thermal performance is affected by both temperature mean and fluctuations, and that plastic responses likely will differ between species according to life strategy and selective past. Here we investigate how acclimation to fluctuating or constant temperature regimes, but with the same mean temperature, impact on heat
stress tolerance across a plant (Arabidopsis thaliana) and two arthropod species (Orchesella cincta and Drosophila melanogaster) inhabiting widely different thermal microhabitats and with varying capability for behavioral stress avoidance. Moreover, we investigate the underlying metabolic responses of acclimation using NMR metabolomics. We find increased heat tolerance for D. melanogaster and A. thaliana exposed to fluctuating acclimation temperatures, but not for O. cincta. The response was most pronounced for A. thaliana, which also showed a stronger metabolome response to thermal fluctuations than both arthropods. Generally, sugars were more abundant across A. thaliana and D. melanogaster when exposed to fluctuating compared to constant temperature, whereas amino acids were less abundant. This pattern was not evident for O. cincta, and generally we do not find much evidence
for similar metabolomics responses to fluctuating temperature acclimation across
species. Differences between the investigated species’ ecology and different ability to
behaviorally thermoregulate may have shaped their physiological responses to thermal
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0237201
JournalP L o S One
Issue number10
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2020

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