Eur. J. Entomol. 107 (4): 487-507, 2010 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2010.057

A new look at discontinuous respiration in pupae of Hyalophora cecropia (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae): Haemocoelic pressure, extracardiac pulsations and O2 consumption

Karel SLÁMA
Institute of Entomology, Biology Centre of Czech Academy of Sciences, Drnovská 507, 161 00 Praha 6, Czech Republic;

Discontinuous respiration in diapausing pupae of Cecropia silkworms was monitored by means of several electronic methods, including recording changes in haemocoelic pressure, monitoring respiratory movements by strain-gauge sensors and nanorespirographic recording of O2 consumption and CO2 output. It appears that, in contrast to previous concepts of stereotypic discontinuous respiration cycles (DGC) driven by accumulation of gaseous CO2 in the body, the new results indicate that CO2 remains dissolved in liquid carbonate buffers during interburst periods. In other words, there is no accumulation of gaseous CO2 within the air filled tracheal space between the bursts. The bursts of CO2 are caused by homeostatically regulated enzymatic hydration by carbonic anhydrase of metabolically produced carbonic acid. The chemically produced gaseous CO2 was exhaled mainly by a bulk outflow through selectively opened or pulsating spiracles. The output of CO2 was enhanced by actively regulated, unidirectional ventilation. The deep depressions in haemocoelic pressure, caused by permanent closure of all spiracular valves for long periods, appeared to be a specific feature of diapausing saturniid pupae. Physiologically, it has circulatory, not respiratory functions. The original definition of spiracular "fluttering" resulted from a misinterpretation of previously unknown extracardiac pulsations in haemocoelic pressure. The coordinated pulsation of the spiracular valves with extracardiac pulsations produce a very efficient, unidirectional ventilation of the whole tracheal system. According to the new results, the discontinuous respiration cycles of diapausing Cecropia pupae can be briefly described as follows: (1) Spiracular valves are kept permanently closed during the periods of deep depressions, they remain closed for some 99% of the time with occasional snap opening (passive inspirations) during prolonged interburst periods and more than 50% closed during the bursts; (2) During the long interburst periods, CO2 is retained in liquid carbonate buffers, while the relatively high (after the burst) or low (toward the next burst) rate of O2 consumption creates an internal vacuum, which is homeostatically compensated for by the snap-opening of one or just a few spiracular valves (passive suction inspirations); (3) The CO2 gas, produced enzymatically by carbonic anhydrase, enters the air filled tracheal system and leaves the body by diffusion, a bulk outflow, or actively regulated unidirectional ventilation ("fluttering" spiracles). The selective advantage of this actively regulated respiratory system for water retention in pupae is discussed.

Keywords: Saturniidae, Hyalophora cecropia, respiratory acidaemia, haemocoelic pulsations, respiratory movements, O2 consumption, spiracular pulsations, CO2 bursts, chemically produced CO2, carbonic anhydrase

Received: April 21, 2010; Accepted: June 7, 2010; Published: October 20, 2010

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