Phenotypic plasticity in the invasive pest Drosophila suzukii: activity rhythms and gene expression in response to temperature.
Phenotypic plasticity may contribute to the invasive success of an alien species in a new environment. A highly plastic species may survive and reproduce in more diverse environments, thereby supporting establishment and colonization. We focused on plasticity in the circadian rhythm of activity, which can favour species coexistence in invasion, for the invasive species Drosophila suzukii, which is expected to be a weaker direct competitor than other Drosophila species of the resident community. We compared the circadian rhythms of the locomotor activity in adults and the expression of clock genes in response to temperature in the invasive D. suzukii and the resident Drosophila melanogaster. We showed that D. suzukii is active in a narrower range of temperatures than D. melanogaster and that the activities of the two species overlap during the day, regardless of the temperature. Both species are diurnal and exhibit rhythmic activity at dawn and dusk, with a much lower activity at dawn for D. suzukii females. Our results show that the timeless and clock genes are good candidates to explain the plastic response that is observed in relation to temperature. Overall, our results suggest that thermal phenotypic plasticity in D. suzukii activity is not sufficient to explain the invasive success of D. suzukii and call for testing other hypotheses, such as the release of competitors and/or predators.