U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


Main content area

Physiological responses to fluctuating temperatures are characterized by distinct transcriptional profiles in a solitary bee

Alex S. Torson, George D. Yocum, Joseph P. Rinehart, Sean A. Nash, Kally M. Kvidera, Julia H. Bowsher
Journal of Experimental Biology 2017 v.220 no.18 pp. 3372-3380
Megachile rotundata, cell membranes, chilling injury, cold stress, cold treatment, diapause, gene expression regulation, homeostasis, mortality, oxidative stress, physiological response, pupae, pupal development, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, sequence analysis, solitary bees, temperature, transcription (genetics)
Exposure to stressful low temperatures during development can result in the accumulation of deleterious physiological effects called chill injury. Metabolic imbalances, disruptions in ion homeostasis and oxidative stress contribute to the increased mortality of chill-injured insects. Interestingly, survival can be significantly increased when chill-susceptible insects are exposed to a daily warm-temperature pulse during chilling. We hypothesize that warm pulses allow for the repair of damage associated with chill injury. Here, we describe transcriptional responses during exposure to a fluctuating thermal regime, relative to constant chilled temperatures, during pupal development in the alfalfa leafcutting bee, Megachile rotundata, using a combination of RNA-seq and qPCR. Pupae were exposed to either a constant, chilled temperature of 6°C, or 6°C with a daily pulse of 20°C for 7 days. RNA-seq after experimental treatment revealed differential expression of transcripts involved in construction of cell membranes, oxidation–reduction and various metabolic processes. These mechanisms provide support for shared physiological responses to chill injury across taxa. The large number of differentially expressed transcripts observed after 7 days of treatment suggests that the initial divergence in expression profiles between the two treatments occurred upstream of the time point sampled. Additionally, the differential expression profiles observed in this study show little overlap with those differentially expressed during temperature stress in the diapause state of M. rotundata. While the mechanisms governing the physiological response to lowtemperature stress are shared, the specific transcripts associated with the response differ between life stages.