Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Chill-coma' recovery: Cold cricket case could defrost mysteries of changing climate

Date:
November 28, 2012
Source:
Western University
Summary:
Biologists have discovered that insects recover from chill-coma by getting water and salt back where it belongs. These findings not only identify the very mechanisms that drive insect movement at low temperatures but will lead to a better understanding of agriculture management, biodiversity and climate change.

Finding the right balance: Insect study could defrost mysteries of changing climate.
Credit: Image courtesy of Western University

Biologists from Western University have discovered that insects recover from chill-coma by getting water and salt back where it belongs. These findings, published online today by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), not only identify the very mechanisms that drive insect movement at low temperatures but will lead to a better understanding of agriculture management, biodiversity and climate change.

Related Articles


Wildlife photographers often pose insects by cooling them down in a refrigerator, where they enter a paralyzed state called chill-coma. Insects in chill-coma appear dead, but are still very much alive. If the shutterbug is patient, he or she will witness the bug as it awakens. Chill-coma was first noted more than a century ago and photographers are not the only ones who have found use for it.

Many alpine spiders prey on insects that have inadvertently landed on snowfields and have gone into a chill-coma while biologists, like Western professor Brent Sinclair and his PhD student Heath MacMillan, use chill-coma recovery as a way to measure insect cold tolerance. A research team, led by MacMillan, studied recovery from chill-coma in fall field crickets and found that recovery depends on fixing the water and salt imbalances that materialize when the insect is cold.

"Insects lose the ability to maintain proper water balance in the cold so when they are chilled, water and sodium move from the insect blood, called hemolymph, into their gut," says MacMillan. "This is bad for the insect because it concentrates potassium in the blood that remains, which leaves muscles unable to function."

To get their muscles working again, crickets restore normal hemolymph potassium concentration, which can occur in a matter of minutes. But just because the insect can move, which MacMillan notes is useful when insects don't wish to be eaten, doesn't mean its physiology has returned to normal.

"Crickets still need to restore sodium and water balance," explains MacMillan. "We measured the metabolic cost of this reboot and found that the process increased a cricket's metabolic rate by as much as 50 per cent for a few hours."

"This work is significant because it allows us to identify the mechanisms that drive insect movement at low temperatures," adds Sinclair. "This will lead to a better understanding of the biology of pest and beneficial insects during cold snaps at any time of year, and maybe help us to predict how different insects respond to changing conditions. This will also help us manage agriculture and biodiversity in a changing climate."

This research was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Western University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. H. A. MacMillan, C. M. Williams, J. F. Staples, B. J. Sinclair. Reestablishment of ion homeostasis during chill-coma recovery in the cricket Gryllus pennsylvanicus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1212788109

Cite This Page:

Western University. "'Chill-coma' recovery: Cold cricket case could defrost mysteries of changing climate." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121128122543.htm>.
Western University. (2012, November 28). 'Chill-coma' recovery: Cold cricket case could defrost mysteries of changing climate. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121128122543.htm
Western University. "'Chill-coma' recovery: Cold cricket case could defrost mysteries of changing climate." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121128122543.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins