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. 2011 Mar 1;214(Pt 5):726-34.
doi: 10.1242/jeb.051540.

The Role of the Gut in Insect Chilling Injury: Cold-Induced Disruption of Osmoregulation in the Fall Field Cricket, Gryllus Pennsylvanicus

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The Role of the Gut in Insect Chilling Injury: Cold-Induced Disruption of Osmoregulation in the Fall Field Cricket, Gryllus Pennsylvanicus

Heath A MacMillan et al. J Exp Biol. .
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Abstract

To predict the effects of changing climates on insect distribution and abundance, a clear understanding of the mechanisms that underlie critical thermal limits is required. In insects, the loss of muscle function and onset of cold-induced injury has previously been correlated with a loss of muscle resting potential. To determine the cause of this loss of function, we measured the effects of cold exposure on ion and water homeostasis in muscle tissue, hemolymph and the alimentary canal of the fall field cricket, Gryllus pennsylvanicus, during an exposure to 0°C that caused chilling injury and death. Low temperature exposure had little effect on muscle osmotic balance but it dissipated muscle ion equilibrium potentials through interactions between the hemolymph and gut. Hemolymph volume declined by 84% during cold exposure whereas gut water content rose in a comparable manner. This rise in water content was driven by a failure to maintain osmotic equilibrium across the gut wall, which resulted in considerable migration of Na(+), Ca(2+) and Mg(2+) into the alimentary canal during cold exposure. This loss of homeostasis is likely to be a primary mechanism driving the cold-induced loss of muscle excitability and progression of chilling injury in chill-susceptible insect species.

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