Thermal sensitivity of growth and feeding in Manduca sexta caterpillars

Physiol Zool. Nov-Dec 1997;70(6):631-8. doi: 10.1086/515872.


We explore how the thermal sensitivity of organismic performance emerges from the thermal sensitivity of the underlying component processes involved, using growth and feeding of Manduca sexta caterpillars as a model system. We measured thermal performance curves for the short-term rates of growth, consumption, protein (casein) digestion, amino acid (methionine) uptake, and respiration in fifth-instar caterpillars over a biologically realistic temperature range from 14 degrees to 42 degrees C. Growth and consumption rates increased between 14 degrees and 26 degrees C, reached a maximum value near 34 degrees C, and declined rapidly above 38 degrees C. In contrast, protein digestion rate and respiration rate increased monotonically over the entire temperature range, and amino acid uptake rate increased with temperatures up to 38 degrees C and then leveled off between 38 degrees and 42 degrees C. These results suggest that the shape and position of the thermal performance curve for growth rate--in particular the maximum at 34 degrees C and rapid decline above 38 degrees C--was most closely correlated with the thermal sensitivity of consumption rate; the declining growth performance above 38 degrees C was not associated with declines in digestion or uptake rates or with accelerated respiration rates at these temperatures.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eating*
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Manduca / growth & development*
  • Manduca / physiology
  • Temperature*