Diet-dependent heat emission reveals costs of post-diapause recovery from different nutritional sources in a carnivorous beetle.

Research paper by Søren S Toft, Søren Achim SA Nielsen

Indexed on: 01 Jul '17Published on: 01 Jul '17Published in: The Science of Nature


Restoration of fat stores is metabolic first priority for many insects that emerge from hibernation with depleted fat bodies. To some extent, the animals must be flexible and use whatever foods available irrespective of their nutrient composition. Previously, the carabid beetles Anchomenus dorsalis have been found to refill their fat stores to the same extent over 9 days irrespective of the nutrient composition of their food. However, a higher cost of fat deposition when the food was rich in sugar or protein rather than lipid was indicated by higher total energy consumption. Here, we test the hypothesis of increased metabolic costs of building fat stores from sugar- or protein-rich food than from lipid-rich food by microcalorimetry. We measured the heat emitted from beetles that had fed on sugar-, protein-, or lipid-rich food for 0 (common control), 2, 5, or 10 days. As predicted, heat emission was increased in beetles getting sugar- and protein-rich food compared with those getting lipid-rich food. However, we did not confirm the beetles' ability to rebuild fat stores from protein-rich food; instead, they increased in lean mass. Overall, sugar-rich food seems to be optimal for post-winter recovery, because it is better than lipid-rich food that allows concurrent rebuilding of fat stores and lean mass, which may benefit preparation for spring migration and reproduction. We propose that overwintered fruits may be highly preferred post-diapause food for these otherwise mostly carnivorous beetles.