2021-03-25Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.3390/insects12040285
Cuticle Hydrocarbons Show Plastic Variation under Desiccation in Saline Aquatic Beetles
In the context of aridification in Mediterranean regions, desiccation resistance and physiological plasticity will be key traits for the persistence of aquatic insects exposed to increasing desiccation stress. Control of cuticular transpiration through changes in the quantity and composition of epicuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) is one of the main mechanisms of desiccation resistance in insects, but it remains largely unexplored in aquatic ones. We studied acclimation responses to desiccation in adults of two endemic water beetles from distant lineages living in Mediterranean intermittent saline streams: Enochrus jesusarribasi (Hydrophilidae) and Nebrioporus baeticus (Dytiscidae). Cuticular water loss and CHC composition were measured in specimens exposed to a prior non-lethal desiccation stress, allowed to recover and exposed to a subsequent desiccation treatment. E. jesusarribasi showed a beneficial acclimation response to desiccation: pre-desiccated individuals reduced cuticular water loss rate in a subsequent exposure by increasing the relative abundance of cuticular methyl-branched compounds, longer chain alkanes and branched alkanes. In contrast, N. baeticus lacked acclimation capacity for controlling water loss and therefore may have a lower physiological capacity to cope with increasing aridity. These results are relevant to understanding biochemical adaptations to drought stress in inland waters in an evolutionary and ecological context.
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