Just Breathe: Measuring the change in metabolic rate by oxygen consumption in superworm (Zophobas morio) when exposed to heat

Amanda Taggett, Tyler Thomas, A'Breanna Wrice, Bianca Mata, Patrick Cusaac


Ectothermic darkling beetle larvae, known as superworms, rely on external heat sources and their ability to move and burrow to regulate their metabolism and ensure survival.  Metabolic rate can be measured by carbon dioxide production as well as oxygen consumption.  We aimed to determine the effects of temperature on oxygen consumption by exposing the superworms to higher than ambient room temperature.  We hypothesized that when superworms were exposed to heat, they would increase their metabolic rate via oxygen consumption due to the increase demand in cellular respiration and their inability to burrow away from heat in a closed container.  A majority of previous studies focus on the production of carbon dioxide to measure metabolic rate, so we chose to measure oxygen consumption to better understand gas exchange in ectothermic cellular respiration.  We introduced three superworms to two controlled temperatures in a small, enclosed metabolic chamber and measured the changes in oxygen percentage over five minutes.  An increase in oxygen consumption when exposed to higher than ambient room temperature in these ectotherms will serve to better support previous studies that correlated the effect of temperature on cellular respiration via carbon dioxide production. 

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