Cryoprotective Response as Part of the Adaptive Strategy of the Red Palm Weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus, against Low Temperatures
Área de Zoología, Departamento de Agroquímica y Medio Ambiente, Universidad Miguel Hernández, E3202 Elche, ALC, Spain
Instituto de Bioingeniería, Universidad Miguel Hernández, E3202 Elche, ALC, Spain
Departamento de Física Aplicada, Universidad Miguel Hernández, E3202 Elche, ALC, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Sandra Vacas, Muhammad Haseeb and Andrés Millán
Received: 10 December 2021
Revised: 6 January 2022
Accepted: 26 January 2022
Published: 27 January 2022
Low environmental temperature acts as a barrier that imposes limits on the geographic distribution of insects. However, due to Earth’s global warming, temperature might no longer be an impediment for insects to colonize some new areas. The spread of pest insects will depend on their adaptive response to cold periods and to thermal anomalies associated with climate change. In this study we analyzed whether the red palm weevil (RPW), one of the worst palm pests worldwide and native to warm areas, has physiological mechanisms that could configure an adaptive response to cold. We find that RPW is capable of rapidly producing substances that reduce chill injuries, primarily glucose as well as glycerol and several amino acids (mainly alanine). Therefore, this work shows for the first time that RPW is able to develop adaptive biochemical responses to deal with low temperatures, similar to those used by overwintering insects. Our results could be useful to improve models predicting the possible spread of RPW to new geographical areas, and also to try to prevent its adaptive response by disrupting the metabolic pathways regulating the involved substances.