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Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2010 Aug 31;173 Suppl:S65-73. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2010.03.013. Epub 2010 Mar 25.

Issues of convection in insect respiration: insights from synchrotron X-ray imaging and beyond.

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Engineering Science and Mechanics, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA.


While it has long been known that in small animals, such as insects, sufficient gas transport could be provided by diffusion, it is now recognized that animals generate and control convective flows to improve oxygen delivery across a range of body sizes and taxa. However, size-based methodological limitations have constrained our understanding of the mechanisms that underlie the production of these convective flows. Recently, new techniques have enabled the elucidation of the anatomical structures and physiological processes that contribute to creating and maintaining bulk flow in small animals. In particular, synchrotron X-ray imaging provides unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution of internal functional morphology and is changing the way we understand gas exchange in insects. This symposium highlights recent efforts towards understanding the relationship between form, function, and control in the insect respiratory system.

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