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Article

Cryoprotective Response as Part of the Adaptive Strategy of the Red Palm Weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus, against Low Temperatures

1
Área de Zoología, Departamento de Agroquímica y Medio Ambiente, Universidad Miguel Hernández, E3202 Elche, ALC, Spain
2
Instituto de Bioingeniería, Universidad Miguel Hernández, E3202 Elche, ALC, Spain
3
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
Insects 2022, 13(2), 134; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13020134
Received: 10 December 2021 / Revised: 6 January 2022 / Accepted: 26 January 2022 / Published: 27 January 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Management of True Weevils (Curculionidae))
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.
The red palm weevil (RPW), Rhynchophorus ferrugineus, is one of the worst palm pests worldwide. In this work, we studied the physiological basis underlying its adaptive strategy against low temperatures. Specifically, we analyzed the main low-molecular-weight biochemical substances acting as possible endogenous cryoprotectants, as well as their efficiency in reducing cold injury by preserving K+/Na+ homeostasis. Wild pre-pupae were cold-treated (5.0 ± 0.5 °C) or non-treated (23 ± 1 °C) for 7 days. We then determined the levels of: (a) glucose, trehalose and glycerol, spectrophotometrically, (b) amino acids, by liquid chromatography and (c) potassium and sodium, by inductively coupled plasma mass-spectrometry. Cold-treated larvae increased their potassium level, suggesting some degree of chill injury. However, part of the cold-exposed animals was able to develop an efficient overall cryoprotective response which primarily includes glucose, as well as glycerol and several amino acids (mainly alanine). Our study shows for the first time that RPW is capable of deploying effective physiological mechanisms for a rapid response to cold, which could be relevant to improving predictive models of geographic distribution, especially in a context of climate change. The knowledge of the specific molecules involved would allow future studies to try to prevent its adaptive strategy, either by natural or chemical methods. View Full-Text
Keywords: red palm weevil (RPW); palm pest; tropical insect; coleoptera; cold hardening; adaptive strategy; low molecular weight substances; cryoprotectant; glucose; glycerol red palm weevil (RPW); palm pest; tropical insect; coleoptera; cold hardening; adaptive strategy; low molecular weight substances; cryoprotectant; glucose; glycerol
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MDPI and ACS Style

León-Quinto, T.; Serna, A. Cryoprotective Response as Part of the Adaptive Strategy of the Red Palm Weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus, against Low Temperatures. Insects 2022, 13, 134. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13020134

AMA Style

León-Quinto T, Serna A. Cryoprotective Response as Part of the Adaptive Strategy of the Red Palm Weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus, against Low Temperatures. Insects. 2022; 13(2):134. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13020134

Chicago/Turabian Style

León-Quinto, Trinidad, and Arturo Serna. 2022. "Cryoprotective Response as Part of the Adaptive Strategy of the Red Palm Weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus, against Low Temperatures" Insects 13, no. 2: 134. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13020134

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