University of Oulu

Kivelä, S., Lehmann, P., Gotthard, K. (2016) Do respiratory limitations affect metabolism of insect larvae before moulting? An empirical test at the individual level. Journal of Experimental Biology, 219 (19), 3061-3071. doi:10.1242/jeb.140442

Do respiratory limitations affect metabolism of insect larvae before moulting? : an empirical test at the individual level

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Author: Kivelä, Sami M.1,2; Lehmann, Philipp1; Gotthard, Karl1
Organizations: 1Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, Stockholm SE-10691, Sweden
2Department of Ecology, University of Oulu, PO Box 3000, Oulu 90014, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Company of Biologists, 2016
Publish Date: 2017-10-05


Recent data suggest that oxygen limitation may induce moulting in larval insects. This oxygen-dependent induction of moulting (ODIM) hypothesis stems from the fact that the tracheal respiratory system of insects grows primarily at moults, whereas tissue mass increases massively between moults. This may result in a mismatch between oxygen supply and demand at the end of each larval instar because oxygen demand of growing tissues exceeds the relatively fixed supply capacity of the respiratory system. The ODIM hypothesis predicts that, within larval instars, respiration and metabolic rates of an individual larva first increase with increasing body mass but eventually level off once the supply capacity of the tracheal system starts to constrain metabolism. Here, we provide the first individual level test of this key prediction of the ODIM hypothesis. We use a novel methodology where we repeatedly measure respiration and metabolic rates throughout the penultimate- and final-instar larvae in the butterfly Pieris napi. In the penultimate instar, respiration and metabolic rates gradually decelerated along with growth, supporting the ODIM hypothesis. However, respiration and metabolic rates increased linearly during growth in the final instar, contradicting the prediction. Moreover, our data suggest considerable variation among individuals in the association between respiration rate and mass in the final instar. Overall, the results provide partial support for the ODIM hypothesis and suggest that oxygen limitation may emerge gradually within a larval instar. The results also suggest that there may be different moult induction mechanisms in larva-to-larva moults compared with the final metamorphic moult.

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Series: Journal of experimental biology
ISSN: 0022-0949
ISSN-E: 1477-9145
ISSN-L: 0022-0949
Volume: 219
Issue: 19
Pages: 3061 - 3071
DOI: 10.1242/jeb.140442
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Copyright information: © 2016. The Authors. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.