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Rapid induction of the heat hardening response in an Arctic insect

New publication by Mathias Hamann Sørensen, Torsten Nygaard Kristensen, Jannik Mørk Skovgaard Lauritzen, Natasja Krog Noer, Toke Thomas Høye and Simon Bahrndorff


 The ability to cope with increasing and more variable temperatures, due to predicted climate changes, through plastic and/or evolutionary responses will be crucial for the persistence of Arctic species. Here, we investigate plasticity of heat tolerance of the Greenlandic seed bug Nysius groenlandicus, which inhabits areas with widely fluctuating temperatures. We test the heat tolerance and hardening capacity (plasticity) of N. groenlandicus using both static (heat knock down time, HKDT) and dynamic (critical thermal maximum, CTmax) assays. We find that N. groenlandicus is able to tolerate short-term exposure to temperatures up to almost 50°C and that it can quickly increase heat resistance following heat hardening. Furthermore, we find that this hardening response is reversible within hours after hardening. These findings contrast with common observations from temperate and tropical insects and suggest high thermal plasticity in some Arctic insects which enables them to cope with extreme temperature variability in their habitats.