Reproduction and Metabolic Responses to Acute and Chronic Hypoxia in Ovoviviparous Blaberid Cockroaches, with a Focus on Blaptica dubia

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The major components of the tracheal system of insects are an extension of the exoskeleton, and the size of the exoskeleton is fixed in the adult stage, so any increase in metabolic demand that may accompany reproduction must be met by a relatively unaltered tracheal system that the female set in place at ecdysis, when entering adulthood. Acute hypoxia tends to elicit an increase in ventilation in insects, and here, I observe increased interburst VCO2 release, and a tendency towards a more continuous gas exchange pattern being preferred over discontinuous gas exchange when Blaptica dubia and Eublaberus posticus are exposed ... continued below

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Mallery, Christopher Sean August 2017.

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  • Mallery, Christopher Sean

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The major components of the tracheal system of insects are an extension of the exoskeleton, and the size of the exoskeleton is fixed in the adult stage, so any increase in metabolic demand that may accompany reproduction must be met by a relatively unaltered tracheal system that the female set in place at ecdysis, when entering adulthood. Acute hypoxia tends to elicit an increase in ventilation in insects, and here, I observe increased interburst VCO2 release, and a tendency towards a more continuous gas exchange pattern being preferred over discontinuous gas exchange when Blaptica dubia and Eublaberus posticus are exposed to a descending regime of hypoxia. Additionally, higher temperatures appear to increase sensitivity to hypoxia in these species, an expected result because both species, like most ectothermic animals, display a Q10 effect, increasing metabolic rates as temperature increases. The reproductive mode of B. dubia is considered to be lecithotrophic pseudoviviparity (or type A ovoviviparity), and by the time the embryos are born, they have more than doubles in volume from the time of oviposition. This gain is apparent in the wet mass of the embryo, with no change occurring in dry mass. The egg mass that can be attributed to water begins at 39% at oviposition and increased to nearly 82% at hatching. The metabolic rates of females and embryos increase as embryonic development progresses, but bomb calorimetry reveals that energy content of the embryos does not change. It is possible that these embryos gain some nutrition from the mother during embryonic development, but direct evidence remains to be demonstrated. Blaptica dubia and Eublaberus posticusare both blaberid species that display the same reproductive mode, pseudoviviparity, with incubation occurring in a brood sac. Comparisons between the reproductive traits of B. dubia and E. posticus reveal that the two species have similar reproductive periods, interbirth periods, and clutch sizes to one another, and that both have reproductive cycles and incubation times intermediate to oviparous species and the one species of cockroach that some consider to be truly viviparous (Diploptera punctata). However, whereas adult female E. posticus are larger than female B. dubia (E. posticus non-gravid female mass: 2.91 +/- 0.42 g, 20; B. dubia non-gravid female mass: 2.60 +/- 0.40 g, 20), the offspring of B. dubia are larger than those of E. posticus at the time of birth (B. dubia neonate mass: 24.70 +/- 4.01 mg, 19; E. posticus neonate mass: 22.40 +/- 1.36 mg, 19). Both gravid and non-gravid female B. dubia respond similarly to acute hypoxia exposure, increasing mean total VCO2. However, the reproductive state does not appear to exacerbate, nor dull, the acute response to hypoxia. Gravid and non-gravid female B. dubia were exposed to chronic hypoxia for 30 days and 45 days. Relatively high mortality was observed in nearly all chronic hypoxic treatment groups as compared to controls at 21 kPa O2. Comparing treatment groups to controls maintained at 21 kPa O2, embryo mass was not decreased, nor was embryo VCO2 at day 30. Adult female B. dubia metabolic rates did not show a consistent change in response to chronic hypoxia, but decreased metabolic rate was observed in the non-gravid B. dubia exposed to chronic 4 kPa O2, an observation that is consistent with past studies in insects. Survival rates were lower for both gravid and non-gravid females in 4, 8, and 12 kPa O2, as well as in 15 kPa O2 in gravid females, as compared to 21 kPa O2. Gravid females experiences a decreased survival rate compared with non-gravid females at 12 and 15 kPa O2, but gravid and non-gravid females had similarly low survival rates at 4 and 8 kPa O2. This difference in survival rates suggests there is a cost associated with carrying an ootheca in a brood sac, resulting in an increased sensitivity to hypoxia, at least over a long period of time.

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  • Oct. 9, 2017, 11:44 a.m.

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Mallery, Christopher Sean. Reproduction and Metabolic Responses to Acute and Chronic Hypoxia in Ovoviviparous Blaberid Cockroaches, with a Focus on Blaptica dubia, dissertation, August 2017; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1011879/: accessed July 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .