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Temperature strongly impacts the rates of physiological and biochemical processes, which in turn can determine the survival and population size of insects. At low temperatures performance is limited, however, cold tolerance and performance at low temperature can be improved after short- or long-term acclimation in many insect species. To understand mechanisms underlying acclimation, we sequenced and compared the transcriptome of the blowfly Chrysomya megacephala under rapid cold hardening (RCH) and long-term cold acclimation (LCA) conditions. The RCH response was dominated by genes related to immune response, spliceosome, and protein processing in endoplasmic reticulum with up-regulation during recovery from RCH. In contrast, LCA was associated with genes related to carbohydrate metabolism and cytoskeleton branching and stabilizing. Meanwhile, mRNA levels of genes related to glycerophospholipid metabolism, and some heat shock proteins (Hsps) were collectively up-regulated by both RCH and LCA. There were more genes and pathway adjustments associated with LCA than RCH. Overall, the transcriptome data provide basic information of molecular mechanisms underpinning the RCH and LCA response. The partly independent molecular responses to RCH and LCA suggest that several avenues for manipulating cold performance exist and RCH might be more effective as it only triggers fewer genes and affects the general metabolisms less. These observations provide some appropriate methods to improve cold tolerance of C. megacephala, and hold promise for developing an extended use of mass-reared C. megacephala with better cold performance as a pollinator of crops at low temperatures.
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