Insect diapause is an alternative life-history strategy used to increase longevity and survival in harsh environmental conditions. Even though some aspects of diapause are well investigated, broader scale studies that elucidate the global metabolic adjustments required for this remarkable trait, are rare. In order to better understand the metabolic changes during early insect diapause, we used a shotgun proteomics approach on early diapausing and non-diapausing larvae of the recently sequenced hymenopteran model organism Nasonia vitripennis. Our results deliver insights into the molecular underpinnings of diapause in Nasonia and corroborate previously reported diapause-associated features for invertebrates, such as a diapause-dependent abundance change for heat shock and storage proteins. Furthermore, we observed a diapause-dependent switch in enzymes involved in glycerol synthesis and a vastly changed capacity for protein synthesis and degradation. The abundance of structural proteins and proteins involved in protein synthesis decreased with increasing diapause duration, while the abundance of proteins likely involved in diapause maintenance (e.g. ferritins) increased. Only few potentially diapause-specific proteins were identified suggesting that diapause in Nasonia relies to a large extent on a modulation of pre-existing pathways. Studying a diapause syndrome on a proteomic level rather than isolated pathways or physiological networks, has proven to be an efficient and successful avenue to understand molecular mechanisms involved in diapause.
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