Oxygen-induced plasticity in tracheal morphology and discontinuous gas exchange cycles in cockroaches Nauphoeta cinerea

Hamish Bartrim, Philip G D Matthews, Sussan Lemon, C.R. White

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3 Citations (Scopus)


The function and mechanism underlying discontinuous gas exchange in terrestrial arthropods continues to be debated. Three adaptive hypotheses have been proposed to explain the evolutionary origin or maintenance of discontinuous gas exchange cycles (DGCs), which may have evolved to reduce respiratory water loss, facilitate gas exchange in high CO2 and low O2 micro-environments, or to ameliorate potential damage as a result of oversupply of O2. None of these hypotheses have unequivocal support, and several non-adaptive hypotheses have also been proposed. In the present study, we reared cockroaches Nauphoeta cinerea in selected levels of O2 throughout development, and examined how this affected growth rate, tracheal morphology and patterns of gas exchange. O2 level in the rearing environment caused significant changes in tracheal morphology and the exhibition of DGCs, but the direction of these effects was inconsistent with all three adaptive hypotheses: water loss was not associated with DGC length, cockroaches grew fastest in hyperoxia, and DGCs exhibited by cockroaches reared in normoxia were shorter than those exhibited by cockroaches reared in hypoxia or hyperoxia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)977-990
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology B-Biochemical Systemic and Environmental Physiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Breathing
  • Development
  • Hyperoxia
  • Hypoxia
  • Metabolic rate
  • Periodic ventilation

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