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J Insect Physiol. 2000 Aug 1;46(8):1207-1218.

Nutrient absorption and utilization by wing and flight muscle morphs of the cricket Gryllus firmus: implications for the trade-off between flight capability and early reproduction.

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  • 1School of Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska, NE 68588, Lincoln, USA


Absorption efficiency (AD, approximate digestibility, assimilation efficiency) of various macronutrients and conversion of absorbed nutrients to biomass (ECD) were compared among the two types of flightless morph and the flight-capable morph of the cricket, Gryllus firmus. No biologically significant phenotypic or genetic difference in AD for carbohydrate, protein or lipid was observed among morphs fed either a high-nutrient (100%) or a low-nutrient (25%) diet. Thus, previously-documented differences among adult morphs in carbohydrate and lipid content must be caused by processes other than variation in nutrient absorption by morphs during adulthood. Relative absorption efficiency of total dry mass of food by morphs of G. firmus appears to be a valid indicator of relative AD of total calories. Morphs did not differ phenotypically or genetically in the excretion of end products of nitrogen metabolism (uric acid, hypoxanthine plus xanthine) on either the high nutrient or the low nutrient diet. Nutritional indices corrected for excreted nitrogenous metabolites were very similar to uncorrected indices, and the pattern of variation among the morphs was the same for corrected or uncorrected values. Each of the two types of flightless morph converted a greater proportion of absorbed nutrients into body mass, mainly ovaries, and allocated a smaller proportion of assimilated nutrients to respiration than did the flight-capable morph. Moreover, the trade-off between respiration and early reproduction was substantially magnified on the low nutrient diet. These results extend previous findings of a trade-off between flight capability and early reproduction in wing-polymorphic Gryllus species (1) to diets of very different nutrient quantity, and (2) to flightlessness arising from different causes: blockage of flight muscle development in juveniles vs histolysis of fully-developed flight muscles in adults.

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