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Prog Mol Subcell Biol. 2010;49:209-29. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-02421-4_10.

Water management by dormant insects: comparisons between dehydration resistance during summer aestivation and winter diapause.

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Department of Entomology, Aronoff Laboratory, The Ohio State University, 318 West 12th Avenue, Columbus, Ohio, 43210, USA.


During summer in temperate regions and tropical dry seasons insects are exposed to extended periods with little available water. To counter this dehydration stress, insects have two options. They can either remain active by utilizing mechanisms to function under severe water stress and high temperatures, or they can escape from the stressful environment by exploiting an aestivation mechanism. During aestivation, insects undergo a variety of molecular and biochemical changes to arrest development, reduce metabolism, tolerate high temperatures, and increase their ability to maintain water balance. In this review, I provide a synopsis of known and possible mechanisms utilized by insects to reduce the stress of dehydration during aestivation. Comparative observations of aestivating and diapausing insects are also discussed to assess similarities and differences in the methods used by insects to increase dehydration resistance between these two types of dormancies. Adaptations that alter moisture requirements during diapause (low metabolic rate, increases in osmolytes, shifts in cuticular hydrocarbons, cell membrane restructing) are likely similar to those utilized at the induction and during the maintenance phase of aestivation. Few studies have been conducted on the physiology, particularly the biochemistry and molecular regulation, of aestivating insects, indicating that much more research is needed to fully assess water balance characteristics of insects during aestivation. Whether an insect is in diapause or aestivation, behavioral, biochemical, and physiological adaptations are essential for suppressing water loss and enhancing survival in a desiccated state.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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