Changes in the rate of CO2 release following feeding in the insect Rhodnius prolixus

Physiol Biochem Zool. May-Jun 2003;76(3):302-9. doi: 10.1086/367953.


We describe for the first time changes in the rate of CO2 release (as a surrogate of metabolic rate) in the terminal larval stage of the insect Rhodnius prolixus following a blood meal and during the molt leading to the adult stage. These data are presented on a whole-animal basis as well as per gram wet and dry weight. We have also used techniques that allow us to describe the rate of release per gram of actual body tissue (i.e., removing the weight of the remaining bloodmeal in the gut and the metabolically inactive portion of the cuticle). While the metabolic rate of the whole animal rises approximately 10-fold in 15 d following feeding, the rate per gram of dry body mass rises only twofold. We use these data to provide insights into the relative contributions of tissue growth and increases in metabolic intensity to the massive increases in metabolic rate observed in these insects following feeding. Our analyses indicate that the majority of nutrient uptake occurs in the first 4 d following feeding. It is well known in this species that day 4 following feeding is the end of a critical period for the insect in determining whether it will proceed to the next molt. Our results indicate that the insects may be able to make this decision based on nutrients already transported into the body. We examined the "down regulation" of metabolism observed in the latter stages of the molt cycle in this insect. We express these changes on both a per animal and per gram basis and demonstrate that this down regulation extends even into the adult stage before feeding. Using a comparison of the allometric relationships of metabolic rate to mass in insects and ticks, we demonstrate that unfed R. prolixus show a marked decrease in metabolic rate compared to other insects, while fed Rhodnius are similar in metabolic rate to other insects. Rhodnius has a markedly higher metabolic rate (as do all insects) than that found in ticks.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbon Dioxide / physiology*
  • Down-Regulation / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Larva / physiology
  • Molting / physiology*
  • Rhodnius / metabolism
  • Rhodnius / physiology*


  • Carbon Dioxide