Critical oxygen partial pressures and maximal tracheal conductances for Drosophila melanogaster reared for multiple generations in hypoxia or hyperoxia

J Insect Physiol. 2010 May;56(5):461-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2009.08.004. Epub 2009 Aug 25.


In Drosophila melanogaster and other insects, increases in atmospheric oxygen partial pressure (aPO(2)) tend to increase adult body size and decrease tracheal diameters and tracheolar proliferation. If changes in tracheal morphology allow for functional compensation for aPO(2), we would predict that higher aPO(2) would be associated with higher critical PO(2) values (CritPO(2)) and lower maximal tracheal conductances (G(max)). We measured CritPO(2) and G(max) for adult and larval vinegar flies reared for 7-9 generations in 10, 21 or 40 kPa O(2). The CritPO(2), CO(2) emission rates and G(max) values were generally independent of the rearing PO(2) these flies had experienced, suggesting that minimal functional changes in tracheal capacities occurred in response to rearing PO(2). Larvae were able to continue activity during 20 min of anoxia. The lack of multigenerational rearing PO(2) effects on tracheal function suggests that the functional compensation at the whole-body level due to tracheal morphological changes in response to aPO(2) may be minimal; alternatively the benefits of such compensation may occur in specific tissues or during processes not assessed by these methods. In larvae, the CritPO(2) and the capacity for movement in anoxia suggest adaptations for life in hypoxic organic matter.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animal Structures / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Basal Metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Hypoxia
  • Larva
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Partial Pressure
  • Respiratory System / metabolism*