Interactive effects of rearing temperature and oxygen on the development of Drosophila melanogaster

Physiol Biochem Zool. Sep-Oct 2001;74(5):641-50. doi: 10.1086/322172.


Although higher temperatures strongly stimulate ectothermic metabolic rates, they only slightly increase oxygen diffusion rates and decrease oxygen solubility. Consequently, we predicted that insect gas exchange systems would have more difficulty meeting tissue oxygen demands at higher temperatures. In this study, Drosophila melanogaster were reared from egg to adult in hyperoxic (40%), hypoxic (10%), and normoxic (21%) conditions and in temperatures ranging from 15 degrees -31.5 degrees C to examine the interactive effect of temperature and oxygen on development. Hyperoxia generally increased mass and growth rate at higher rearing temperatures. At lower rearing temperatures, however, hyperoxia had a very small effect on mass, did not affect growth rate, and lengthened time to eclosion. Relative to normoxia, flies reared in hypoxic conditions were generally smaller (mass and thorax length), had longer eclosion times, slower growth rates, and reduced survival. At cooler temperatures, hypoxia had relatively modest or nonsignificant effects on development, while at higher temperatures, the effects of hypoxia were large. These results suggest that higher temperatures reduce oxygen delivery capacity relative to tissue oxygen needs, which may partially explain why ectotherms are smaller when development occurs at higher temperatures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Body Constitution
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hypoxia
  • Larva / growth & development
  • Male
  • Oxygen
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Temperature


  • Oxygen