Reactive oxygen species production and discontinuous gas exchange in insects
While biochemical mechanisms are typically used by animals to reduce oxidative damage, insects are suspected to employ a higher organizational level, discontinuous gas exchange mechanism to do so. Using a combination of real-time, flow-through respirometry and live-cell fluorescence microscopy, we show that spiracular control associated with the discontinuous gas exchange cycle (DGC) in Samia cynthia pupae is related to reactive oxygen species (ROS). Hyperoxia fails to increase mean ROS production, although minima are elevated above normoxic levels. Furthermore, a negative relationship between mean V<inf>CO<inf>2</inf></inf> and mean ROS production indicates that higher ROS production is generally associated with lower V<inf>CO<inf>2</inf></inf>. Our results, therefore, suggest a possible signalling role for ROS in DGC, rather than supporting the idea that DGC acts to reduce oxidative damage by regulating ROS production. © 2011 The Royal Society.