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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Insect Genetics and Biochemistry Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #318566

Research Project: INSECT CRYOPRESERVATION, DORMANCY, GENETICS AND BIOCHEMISTRY

Location: Insect Genetics and Biochemistry Research

Title: A critical evaluation of the insect body size model and causes of metamorphosis in solitary bees

Author
item Helm, Bryan - North Dakota State University
item Rinehart, Joseph - Joe
item Yocum, George
item Bowsher, Julia - North Dakota State University
item Greenlee, Kendra - North Dakota State University

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/15/2015
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The insect body size model posits that adult size is determined by growth rate and the duration of growth during the larval stage of development. Within the model, growth rate is regulated by many mechanistic elements that are influenced by both internal and external factors. However, the duration of growth is regulated by the physiological processes underlying metamorphosis—attainment of a critical weight, a terminal growth period, and finally cessation of growth itself. While the hormonal dynamics that regulate the terminal growth period and cessation of growth are well-understood, the mechanistic basis of the critical weight has remained elusive. More importantly, the body size model is based almost entirely on a few insect species, and its applicability for other insects is still an open question. In this study, we aimed to characterize the critical weight in the solitary bee, Osmia lignaria. In doing so, we found that this species does not have a “critical weight” per se, but rather uses food provisioning and its absence as a strong cue for metamorphic commitment. Individuals that are provisioned with an excess of larval provisions still eventually undergo metamorphosis—although after considerable delay—suggesting that there may be multiple cues that can trigger a critical weight decision. Finally, our study showed that nearly all (~90%) of variation in adult size for O. lignaria was determined by the relative timing of growth cessation during larval development. Thus, the duration of larval growth had profound impacts on adult size.

Technical Abstract: The insect body size model posits that adult size is determined by growth rate and the duration of growth during the larval stage of development. Within the model, growth rate is regulated by many mechanistic elements that are influenced by both internal and external factors. However, the duration of growth is regulated by the physiological processes underlying metamorphosis—attainment of a critical weight, a terminal growth period, and finally cessation of growth itself. While the hormonal dynamics that regulate the terminal growth period and cessation of growth are well-understood, the mechanistic basis of the critical weight has remained elusive. More importantly, the body size model is based almost entirely on a few insect species, and its applicability for other insects is still an open question. In this study, we aimed to characterize the critical weight in the solitary bee, Osmia lignaria. In doing so, we found that this species does not have a “critical weight” per se, but rather uses food provisioning and its absence as a strong cue for metamorphic commitment. Individuals that are provisioned with an excess of larval provisions still eventually undergo metamorphosis—although after considerable delay—suggesting that there may be multiple cues that can trigger a critical weight decision. Finally, our study showed that nearly all (~90%) of variation in adult size for O. lignaria was determined by the relative timing of growth cessation during larval development. Thus, the duration of larval growth had profound impacts on adult size.