Ontogenetic scaling of metabolism, growth, and assimilation: testing metabolic scaling theory with Manduca sexta larvae.

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Metabolism, growth, and the assimilation of energy and materials are essential processes that are intricately related and depend heavily on animal size. However, models that relate the ontogenetic scaling of energy assimilation and metabolism to growth rely on assumptions that have yet to be rigorously tested. Based on detailed daily measurements of metabolism, growth, and assimilation in tobacco hornworms, Manduca sexta, we provide a first experimental test of the core assumptions of a metabolic scaling model of ontogenetic growth. Metabolic scaling parameters changed over development, in violation of the model assumptions. At the same time, the scaling of growth rate matches that of metabolic rate, with similar scaling exponents both across and within developmental instars. Rates of assimilation were much higher than expected during the first two instars and did not match the patterns of scaling of growth and metabolism, which suggests high costs of biosynthesis early in development. The rapid increase in size and discrete instars observed in larval insect development provide an ideal system for understanding how patterns of growth and metabolism emerge from fundamental cellular processes and the exchange of materials and energy between an organism and its environment.


Physiological and Biochemical Zoology



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