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Insects 2017, 8(4), 110; doi:10.3390/insects8040110

The Heartrate Reaction to Acute Stress in Horned Passalus Beetles (Odontotaenius disjunctus) is Negatively Affected by a Naturally-Occurring Nematode Parasite

Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
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Academic Editors: Kenneth Wilson, Fleur Ponton and Sheena Cotter
Received: 18 July 2017 / Revised: 29 September 2017 / Accepted: 16 October 2017 / Published: 18 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Parasite-Insect Interactions)
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Abstract

There are many events in the lives of insects where rapid, effective stress reactions are needed, including fighting conspecifics to defend territories, evading predators, and responding to wounds. A key element of the stress reaction is elevation of heartrate (HR), for enhancing distribution of blood (hemolymph) to body compartments. We conducted two experiments designed to improve understanding of the insect stress reaction and how it is influenced by parasitism in a common beetle species (Odontotaenius disjunctus). By non-destructively observing heartbeat frequency before, during and after applying a stressor (physical restraint) for 10 min, we sought to determine: (1) the exact timing of the cardiac stress reaction; (2) the magnitude of heartrate elevation during stress; and (3) if the physiological response is affected by a naturally-occurring nematode parasite, Chondronema passali. Restraint caused a dramatic increase in heartrate, though not immediately; maximum HR was reached after approximately 8 min. Average heartrate went from 65.5 beats/min to a maximum of 81.5 (24.5% increase) in adults raised in the lab (n = 19). Using wild-caught adults (n = 77), average heartrates went from 54.9 beats/min to 74.2 (35.5% increase). When restraint was removed, HR declined after ~5 min, and reached baseline 50 min later. The nematode parasite did not affect baseline heartrates in either experiment, but in one, it retarded the heartrate elevation during stress, and in the other, it reduced the overall magnitude of the elevation. While we acknowledge that our results are based on comparisons of beetles with naturally-occurring parasite infections, these results indicate this parasite causes a modest reduction in host cardiac output during acute stress conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: insect stress; heartrate; passalus beetle; Odontotaenius disjunctus; nematodes; Chondronema passali insect stress; heartrate; passalus beetle; Odontotaenius disjunctus; nematodes; Chondronema passali
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MDPI and ACS Style

Davis, A.K.; Coogler, B.; Johnson, I. The Heartrate Reaction to Acute Stress in Horned Passalus Beetles (Odontotaenius disjunctus) is Negatively Affected by a Naturally-Occurring Nematode Parasite. Insects 2017, 8, 110.

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