The role of reduced oxygen in the developmental physiology of growth and metamorphosis initiation in drosophila melanogaster

Viviane Callier, Alexander W. Shingleton, Colin S. Brent, Shampa M. Ghosh, Jinkyu Kim, Jon Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations


Rearing oxygen level is known to affect final body size in a variety of insects, but the physiological mechanisms by which oxygen affects size are incompletely understood. In Manduca sexta and Drosophila melanogaster, the larval size at which metamorphosis is initiated largely determines adult size, and metamorphosis is initiated when larvae attain a critical mass. We hypothesized that oxygen effects on final size might be mediated by oxygen effects on the critical weight and the ecdysone titers, which regulate growth rate and the timing of developmental transitions. Our results showed that oxygen affected critical weight, the basal ecdysone titers and the timing of the ecdysone peak, providing clear evidence that oxygen affected growth rate and developmental rate. Hypoxic third instar larvae (10% oxygen) exhibited a reduced critical weight, slower growth rate, delayed pupariation, elevated baseline ecdysone levels and a delayed ecdysone peak that occurred at a lower larval mass. Hyperoxic larvae exhibited increased basal ecdysone levels, but no change in critical weight compared with normoxic larvae and no significant change in timing of pupariation. Previous studies have shown that nutrition is crucial for regulating growth rate andthe timing of developmental transitions. Here we show that oxygen level is one of multiple cues that together regulate adult size and the timing and dynamics of growth, developmental rate and ecdysone signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4334-4340
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013



  • Critical weight
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Ecdysone
  • Growth
  • Oxygen
  • Size regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science

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