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Insect cold hardiness: metabolic, gene, and protein adaptation

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Abstract:

Winter survival for thousands of species of insects relies on adaptive strategies for cold hardiness. Two basic mechanisms are widely used (freeze avoidance by deep supercooling and freeze tolerance where insects endure ice formation in extracellular fluid spaces), whereas additional strategies (cryoprotective dehydration, vitrification) are also used by some polar species in extreme environments. This review assesses recent research on the biochemical adaptations that support insect cold hardiness. We examine new information about the regulation of cryoprotectant biosynthesis, mechanisms of metabolic rate depression, role of aquaporins in water and glycerol movement, and cell preservation strategies (chaperones, antioxidant defenses and metal binding proteins, mitochondrial suppression) for survival over the winter. We also review the new information coming from the use of genomic and proteomic screening methods that are greatly widening the scope for discovery of genes and proteins that support winter survival.

Keywords: antioxidants; antioxydants; chaperones; chaperons moléculaires; cryoprotectant metabolism; dépression du taux métabolique; expression génétique; freeze avoidance; freeze tolerance; gene expression; genomics; génomique; insect winter survival; metabolic rate depression; métabolisme des cryoprotecteurs; proteomics; protéomique; signal transduction; survie des insectes à l’hiver; tolérance au gel; transduction du signal; évitement du gel

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1139/z2012-011

Publication date: 2012-04-01

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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