The study of insect respiration rates is essential for elucidating the metabolic processes that are central to animal functioning and sustainable protein synthesis. Metabolic rate is often measured as a phenotypical trait in evolutionary genetics, and many facets of insect physiology, behaviour, and ecology, because it impacts organismal fitness, is repeatable and heritable, and is responsive to numerous environmental variables. Scientific exploration in this area is providing invaluable insights for refining pest and mosquito control strategies and improving ecological models. Within protein farms, the effective conversion of organic substrates into protein not only minimises environmental impact, but also positions insect farming as an environmentally friendly protein source. By insect respirometry, the carbon footprint of insect rearing conditions can be determined and subsequently optimised. Designing setups to suit the different respiratory patterns of insect (and other Arthropod) species requires careful customisation; the modularity of the supplied Low Range Insect Q-RP1LP Respirometer allows this to be achieved.
Q-RP1LP Insect Respiration System, designed to measure the metabolic rate of insects and other small animals in an open flow or stop flow gas exchange system. Includes both a CO2 analyser and an O2 sensor to calculate Respiratory Quotients (RQ). For very small changes in pO2, such as during the respiration of insects, the system should be used in a stop-flow configuration. In the latter, the flow is stopped for a period of time to allow CO2 to accumulate and O2 to decrease. When the flow path is subsequently opened, the gas is passed through both sensors for measurement. The opening and closing of the flow-through chamber with the Insect (or another arthropod) is achieved automatically according to periods of time specified by the user in the software. Automatic calculations of insect VO2, VCO2 and RQ are displayed in the dedicated software.
The two respiration chambers included are suitable for a wide range of insects or similar arthropods; custom chambers can be supplied for special requirements. The ability to scale the equipment to suit both small and large arthropods without compromising on accuracy is therefore a major advantage of the Q-RP1LP package. Furthermore, respirometry studies on insects often suffer from small sample sizes and rely on low throughput approaches to measure metabolic rate, making it difficult to answer ecological and evolutionary questions due to lack of power, failure to capture true biological variation and confounding variables such as time introduced. The fully compatible, optional gas switching system Q-GSS-SF thus allows up to 7 insects to be measured in parallel (the 8th chamber acts as a control), significantly increasing the number of insects that can be handled in parallel.
The LoggerPro software suite is included, dedicated experimental files for insect respirometry facilitate analysing the gathered CO2 and O2 data (per channel). Customized systems for use with other data acquisition interfaces and software remain available.
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To study the smallest insects, the recommended method is to briefly enclose the insect in the measurement chamber. The integrated oxygen and CO2 fluxes are then measured by the Q-RP1LP as the chamber is purged with fresh air. This method, known as constant volume or stop-flow respirometry, can be used to assess metabolic processes in various small organisms, including small groups of tiny Drosophila fruit flies. The process of sealing and refreshing up to 7 chambers is automated by the LoggerPro control software (or manually if required).
Insect respirometry is also possible using other gas analyser systems, here the Q-S157-PF is used with an insect respiration chamber and a solenoid valve. The Q-S104 Differential Oxygen Analyser is a high resolution O2 analyser for detecting particularly small changes in O2 levels. Contact us to discuss individual technical solutions for your insect metabolism studies.