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J Insect Physiol. 2006 Oct;52(10):1027-33. Epub 2006 Jul 27.

The effects of carbon dioxide anesthesia and anoxia on rapid cold-hardening and chill coma recovery in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Department of Biological Sciences University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV 89154-4004, USA.


Carbon dioxide gas is used as an insect anesthetic in many laboratories, despite recent studies which have shown that CO(2) can alter behavior and fitness. We examine the effects of CO(2) and anoxia (N(2)) on cold tolerance, measuring the rapid cold-hardening (RCH) response and chill coma recovery in Drosophila melanogaster. Short exposures to CO(2) or N(2) do not significantly affect RCH, but 60 min of exposure negates RCH. Exposure to CO(2) anesthesia increases chill coma recovery time, but this effect disappears if the flies are given 90 min recovery in air before chill coma induction. Flies treated with N(2) show a similar pattern, but require significantly longer chill coma recovery times even after 90 min of recovery from anoxia. Our results suggest that CO(2) anesthesia is an acceptable way to manipulate flies before cold tolerance experiments (when using RCH or chill coma recovery as a measure), provided exposure duration is minimized and recovery is permitted before chill coma induction. However, we recommend that exposure to N(2) not be used as a method of anesthesia for chill coma studies.

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