Surviving starvation: Changes accompanying starvation tolerance in a bdelloid rotifer

Authors

  • Roberto Marotta,

    Corresponding author
    1. Dipartimento di Biologia, Università degli Studi di Milano, 20133 Milano, Italy
    Current affiliation:
    1. Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT), Via Morego 30, 16163 Genova, Italy
    • Via Morego 30, 20133 Genova, Italy
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    • Roberto Marotta, Andrea Uggetti, and Claudia Ricci contributed equally to this study.

  • Andrea Uggetti,

    1. Dipartimento di Biologia, Università degli Studi di Milano, 20133 Milano, Italy
    Current affiliation:
    1. Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta, Via Celoria 11, 20133 Milano, Italy
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    • Roberto Marotta, Andrea Uggetti, and Claudia Ricci contributed equally to this study.

  • Claudia Ricci,

    1. Dipartimento di Protezione dei Sistemi Agroalimentare e Urbano e Valorizzazione delle Biodiversità, Università degli Studi di Milano, 20133 Milano, Italy
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    • Roberto Marotta, Andrea Uggetti, and Claudia Ricci contributed equally to this study.

  • Francesca Leasi,

    1. Dipartimento di Biologia, Università degli Studi di Milano, 20133 Milano, Italy
    Current affiliation:
    1. Imperial College London, Silwood Park, Buckhurst Road, Ascot, SL5 7PY Berkshire, UK
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  • Giulio Melone

    1. Dipartimento di Biologia, Università degli Studi di Milano, 20133 Milano, Italy
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Abstract

Bdelloid rotifers survive desiccation and starvation by halting activity and entering a kind of dormancy. To understand the mechanisms of survival in the absence of food source, we studied the anatomical and ultrastructural changes occurring in a bdelloid species, Macrotrachela quadricornifera Milne 1886, after starvation for different periods. The starved rotifers present a progressive reduction of body size accompanied with a consistent reduction of the volume of the stomach syncytium, where lipid inclusions and digestive vacuoles tend to fade with prolonged starvation. Similar reduction occurs in the vitellarium gland, in which yolk granules progressively decrease in number and size. The changes observed in the syncytia of the stomach and the vitellarium suggest that during starvation M. quadricornifera uses resources diverted from the stomach syncytium first and from the vitellarium syncytium later, resources that are normally allocated to reproduction. The fine structure of starved bdelloids is compared with that of anhydrobiotic bdelloids, revealing that survival during either forms of dormancy is sustained by different physiological mechanisms. J. Morphol., 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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