Oxidative activity of poikilotherm mitochondria as a function of temperature



In Newell & Northcroft (1967) evidence was presented which showed that the metabolism of certain intertidal invertebrates at rest does not vary greatly with temperature change. The following work was undertaken to determine whether temperature-independent metabolism could be demonstrated in suspensions of mitochondria extracted from poikilotherm tissue and whether it could be inferred that there was any difference in the ability of poikilotherms from different habitats to adjust toshort-term temperature change.

It was found that the rate of reaction/temperature curve of mitochondria isolated from the skate Raia had a flattened region below 10°C but above this the rate of oxidation of succinate and pyruvate increased regularly with temperature. The curve for intertidal forms had a gradual slope extending as high as 20°C in the mussel Mytilus edulis while in the terrestrial snail Helix aspersa the gradual slope reached 27.5°C after which the rate of oxidation of substrate increased sharply before declining towards higher temperatures. Finally, the curve for mitochondria isolated from the desert locust Schistocerca gregaria showed a gradual slope up to 35°C after which a sharp increase in the rate of oxidation of substrate occurred. Thus the extent of the gradual slope corresponds with the normal environmental temperature range to which the tissues of the poikilotherms are subjected and the general form of the R-T curve is such that rapid fluctuations within the normal environmental temperature range have relatively little effect on the rate of mitochondrial activity.