Wednesday, July 10, 2013

  Temperature, Effect on devlopment and growth of Insect

(effect of temperature on development of insect )

The body temperature of insects, as in other ectothermic organisms, is linked to changes in the ambient temperature.
Temperature fluctuations are small in environments such as the tropical rainforest, caves, and some aquatic habitats. In most habitats, however, the seasonal and diurnal temperature oscillations are considerable. For example, insect body temperature can change abrupdy by 10°C or more when exposure to direct sunlight is followed by the shade of a cloud. The way of life with fluctuating body temperatures is called heterothermy; this is in contrast to the homeothermy of endothermic organisms, such as birds and mammals, which regulate their body temperature, partly by generating endogenous heat.


Every organism is adapted to a set temperature range. A general preference for high temperatures is referred to as thermophily, and the inclination to low temperatures is psychrophily. Insects living in warm climates or parasitizing warm-blooded animals are thermophilic, whereas those dwelling in soil are usually psychrophilic. Temperature preferences may change during development; for example, aquatic insects inhabit cold mountain streams during their immature stages but fly in warm air as adults. Temperature fluctuations within the species-specific physiological range determine the rate of development and often exert other physiological effects.

Development and reproduction occur at physiological temperatures that are delimited by an upper and a lower developmental threshold (UDT and LDT, respectively). Within this range, there is an optimal temperature for rapid development. The dependence on temperature can be expressed as a metabolic rate or as a developmental rate. The metabolic rate (MR) reflects the velocity of the energy-supplying biochemical processes and can be measured as oxygen consumption, carbon dioxide production, or heat generation. Many enzymatic reactions and the total body metabolism increase exponentially over a broader temperature range than is the span of physiological temperatures. Metabolic increase is usually two- to threefold with temperature elevation by 10°C and can be expressed by MR = , where a and k are constants and T is temperature.

Metabolic rate determines the developmental rate (DR), which is a reciprocal value of the developmental time (DT), DR = 1/DT. Measuring developmental times, such as duration of larval development, length of the reproductive period, or expanse of the entire life cycle, requires maintenance of defined conditions (notably temperature and nutrition). This is difficult to do for long periods of time and this is why DT and DR values are usually established for individual developmental stages and then recalculated for the entire life cycle. Circadian rhythmicity of some processes, for example, the synchrony of hatching or adult emergence at a certain time of day, complicates DT assessments.

In contrast to the exponential rise of the metabolic rate, the increase in DR within the physiological temperature range is linear. When a series of temperature and corresponding DR values is plotted in a graph, a straight line so obtained crossed the x axis at the theoretical LDT point. Close to this point, the relationship between developmental rate and temperature ceases to be linear, and the straight line is bent into a sigmoidal curve. Actual LDT is therefore somewhat lower then predicted. At the upper temperature range, the DR slows down before it reaches a maximum at the optimal temperature. After the maximum, DR sharply drops and at UDT the development is discontinued.

Developmental time depends on the effective temperature, i.e., temperature value above LDT (actual temperature T minus LDT). The constant product of effective temperature and developmental time is called the sum of effective temperatures (SET) and represents the heat required for the completion of a particular developmental stage. SET is conveniently expressed as the number of degree days. For example, a SET value of 100 degree days means that development at 5°C above LDT lasts 20 days and at 10°C above LDT 10 days. When the insects develop at fluctuating temperatures, the average temperature above LDT and the length of time when the temperature surpasses LDT are considered for each day, and the number of degree days established in this way is summed. Developmental stage is completed when the summation reaches the SET value.

A temporal drop in temperature below LDT is associated with developmental block and is counted as 0. Usually, there is no “negative developmental rate” at temperatures below LDT, i.e., no delay of development is observed after transfer to an effective temperature. Natural temperature fluctuations, however, may have a signaling effect and influence the SET value in some species, and this possibility must be checked experimentally.

The LDT and SET values are species-specific population characteristics. The LDT values are similar for all developmental stages of a given species, even when they develop in diverse seasons and experience disparate temperature fluctuations. The stability of LDT is manifested as developmental thermal isometry, i.e., the percentage of time spent in a particular stage at any constant physiological temperature is a stable fraction of the entire developmental time. The LDT and SET values established in the laboratory enable prediction of the course of development in the field. Control of many insect pests in agriculture and forestry largely relies on such predictions. For example, on the basis of the LDT and SET data for the codling moth (Cydia pomonella) we can predict, on the basis of daily temperature measurements in an orchard, the time of the first egg deposition and time insecticide sprays accordingly.

Both LDT and, especially, SET may vary between geographical populations because of adjustments to local climatic conditions. Insects that have spread to temperate zones from the tropical regions often maintain a high LDT and can reproduce and develop only in the hot season, spending most of the year in a state of dormancy. The survival in cold is made possible by increased cold hardiness, a parameter that seems to be more plastic than LDT.

Most insects must overcome long periods of adverse conditions when food is wanting and temperature remains outside the physiological limits. Insects cease development and reproduction but, if the temperature does not reach lethal extremes, they remain capable of resuming these processes as soon as the conditions become favorable. The state of easily reversible, directly temperature-dependent developmental arrest is known as quiescence. It is typical of insects adapted to relatively short periods of unfavorable, nonlethal circumstances, and it is usually associated with temperature acclimation.

Insects that will be exposed to severely hostile conditions that can last for many months enter a programmed developmental arrest, diapause. Diapause occurs in anticipation of a season in which the insect could not survive in the active state. It is induced by environmental signals acting before the adverse conditions set it, sometimes on a much earlier developmental stage and exceptionally on the parental generation.

Seasonal changes in the environment are specific for each latitude, altitude, and habitat, but always correlate with changes in the photoperiod, i.e., the length of day versus the length of night. Photoperiodic changes therefore provide ideal signal for the advent of unsuitable conditions. However, temperature can shift the diapause-inducing photoperiod response over a broad range. For example, 50% of caterpillars of Acronycta rumicis are induced to enter pupal diapause at a daylength of 19 h at 15°C, but at 16 h at 25°C. Low temperature normally enhances the effect of short photoperiod and high temperature enhances the effect of long photoperiod. Daily fluctuations of temperature, the thermoperiod, can induce diapause in a few species kept in constant darkness. On the other hand, high temperature can abolish the diapause-inducing effect of a short photoperiod. For most insects, the diapause is facultative and there is a variation in the critical photoperiod/thermoperiod at which each individual enters diapause.

Once induced, diapause is not terminated immediately after the diapause-inducing conditions disappear. A certain time must elapse, during which neurohormonal regulations return to the pattern supporting development and reproduction. The mechanisms controlling diapause termination are not known. The length of time in diapause depends on its “depth” and on environmental conditions, especially temperature, to which the diapausing insects are exposed. In the overwintering insects, diapause is often shortest at temperatures around 5°C (Fig. 1) and the photoperiod is irrelevant. Due to exposure to low temperatures in late fall, the overwintering insects terminate diapause in early winter, and the resumption of their development or reproduction is then halted only by a direct effect of low temperature: diapause turns into quiescence.


In certain insects, temperatures within the physiological range affect the course of non-diapause development. For example,

larvae of the yellow mealworm, Tenebrio molitor, develop in 11-15 instars at 25°C and in 15-23 instars at 30°C. Less dramatic changes in the number of molts and the growth rate were noted in a number of insects. Abnormal temperatures can also dissociate the onset of metamorphosis from the body size at which it normally occurs. In the wax moth, Galleria mellonella, placing newly ecdysed larvae of the last or penultimate instar on melting ice induces an additional larval molt. To cause such anomalies, the temperature must alter the secretion of hormones that control specific developmental events.

Some insect species occur in more than one form and their alternation depends on temperature. For instance, development of young caterpillars of Colias eurytheme at 18°C leads to mainly yellow, and development at 27—32°C to orange, butterflies. The spring and summer forms of some other butterflies are well known examples of seasonal dimorphism in which one form is linked to diapause.


A general response of insects to temperatures just below their LDT or above their UDT is the cessation of development and reproduction while the insects remain active and feed. The larvae may slowly grow and the adults accumulate reserves and to some extent undergo gonadal maturation. These processes are terminated at more extreme temperatures when the insects begin to die.

During cooling, the metabolic rate and motility gradually decrease. At a certain temperature, the neural and muscular activities are impaired and the insect lapses into cold stupor. The metabolic rate of such immobile insects continues to decline with decreasing temperature. The stupor point is as high as 12°C in some tropical insects and the honey bees, around 5°C in many temperate species, near 0°C in most overwintering insects, and below the freezing point in species living in very cold areas.
The nature of chill injuries is little understood. Desiccation and nutrient depletion during the cold-induced starvation are certainly incompatible with long-term survival, but death usually occurs earlier and is probably the result of damaging effects at cellular level. The loss of cell membrane fluidity, imperfect protein functions (enzymatic activities, transport, signaling, etc.), and the resulting asynchrony of the life-supporting processes cause metabolic disorders. For example, the ion pumps in the cell membrane become inefficient and sodium concentration in cytoplasm increases, while the potassium ions flow out into the hemolymph.

The upper temperature extremes are also lethal. Gradual warming past UDT, which is for many species around 35°C but is never sharply delimited, increases the metabolic rate, loss of water, and motility. At a certain temperatures, usually around 40°C, the water loss, and thereby the evaporative body cooling, increases sharply. The spiracles are wide open and the melting of cuticular lipids permits evaporation through the body surface. After some time at such a high temperature, the losses of water and nutrients lead to exhaustion, manifested as a rapid decrease of motility and a drop of transpiration. If this state is brief, it can be reversed. The temperature at which it occurs is the upper lethal threshold. A gradual temperature increase to this threshold may cause heat stupor.

Survival at temperatures above the threshold is a function of temperature and length of exposure. Warming to the absolute upper lethal temperature, which is usually around 50—55°C, causes irreversible tissue damage, and even a short exposure is lethal.


The survival at extreme temperatures is improved after an acclimation. Shortening of the photoperiod in late autumn and early winter usually acts synergistically with descending temperature in triggering a seasonal cold acclimation. An exposure to low temperature alone is often insufficient for full cold acclimation and successful winter survival because some physiological adjustments (for instance down-regulation of the ice nucleators and enhancement of cryoprotectant biosynthesis) require a preceding switch to the diapause developmental mode and this is controlled by the photoperiod. In other insects, cold acclimation is associated with temperature-dependent quiescence and the photoperiod is irrelevant.

Cold acclimation is a complex adjustment involving profound changes at the organismic and tissue levels. Accumulation of low-molecular-weight cryoprotective polyols and, in some insects, also synthesis of antifreeze proteins are characteristic features of cold acclimation. Other physiological changes include changes in cuticular lipids, increased fluidity of phospholipids in the cell membranes, conformation changes of some proteins, possibly production of alternative enzymes with activity optima at lower temperatures, and synthesis of heat-shock proteins. Acclimation may also encompass changes in morphology (e.g., cold-acclimated lacewings turn from green to reddish brown) and behavior (e.g., formation of cocoons with higher resistance to desiccation and ice penetration, voiding the gut to get rid of ice nucleators, and seeking dry places to prevent ice inoculation from the surroundings).

The temperature at which insects freeze is relatively low even without cold acclimation. Insects contain only low amounts of nucleators needed for the ice crystal formation and are therefore capable of considerable supercooling. The nonacclimated individuals freeze at —10 to — 15°C, while those with accumulated cryoprotectants and antifreeze proteins can be supercooled to temperatures below —20°C. All cryoprotec-tive compounds disappear from the organism after a certain time. The length of this deacclimation process also depends on temperature, but details have not been examined.

Changes associated with heat acclimation are litde known. Synthesis of heat-shock proteins, which were discovered in Drosophila exposed to elevated temperature, is a very general response not only to heat but also to cold and various other types of stress. Several types of heat-shock proteins are known from organisms ranging from bacteria to plants. It is believed that they are chaperones enabling or protecting functional protein conformations. Temperature or another stressing factor acts as a signal inducing their synthesis at transcriptional level. Accumulation in the cells of “unfolded” proteins is believed to be the common intracellular message triggering this transcription.

Ref: Frantisek Sehnal, Oldfich Nedved, and Vladimir Kost’al
Institute of Entomology, Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic

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