Interactions of temperature and dietary protein concentration in growth and feeding of Manduca sexta caterpillars

J. G. Kingsolver, H. A. Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Temperature and the protein content of food affect rates of consumption and growth in herbivorous insects in different ways: reduced temperature typically reduces both consumption and growth rates, whereas reduced dietary protein typically increases consumption rate but either reduces or has no effect on growth rate. The interactions between temperature and dietary protein concentration in affecting consumption, growth and efficiency in fifth-instar caterpillars of Manduca sexta were studied, using both short-term (4 h) and long-term (duration of fifth stadium) experiments. The short-term experiments examined constant temperatures between 14 and 42°C, whereas the long-term experiments examined constant temperatures between 18 and 34°C; both experiments considered two levels of dietary protein. In both experiments, caterpillars had significantly higher consumption and frass production rates on low-protein compared with high-protein diets at each test temperature between 18 and 34°C, thereby compensating for the lower diet quality. In contrast, at more extreme temperatures (14 and 42°C) in the short-term studies, consumption and frass production rates were lower on low-protein compared with high-protein diets. As a result, there were substantial interactions between temperature and dietary protein for consumption and frass production rates in the short-term experiments, but not in the long-term experiments. These results suggest that interactions between temperature and dietary protein may emerge because of the failure of compensatory feeding responses at low and high temperatures. It is hypothesized that the failure of compensatory responses is more likely to occur under diurnally fluctuating temperatures than under a constant temperature with the same mean, and it is proposed that interactions between temperature and dietary protein for consumption are relevant to M. sexta and other caterpillars that experience wide diurnal fluctuations in temperature in the field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-359
Number of pages6
JournalPhysiological Entomology
Volume23
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1998

Keywords

  • Caterpillars
  • Dietary protein
  • Feeding
  • Growth
  • Manduca sexta
  • Temperature
  • Thermal performance curves

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