Gain of long tonic immobility behavioral trait causes the red flour beetle to reduce anti-stress capacity

Hikaru Kiyotake, Hitoshi Matsumoto, Satoshi Nakayama, Miyuki Sakai, Takahisa Miyatake, Masasuke Ryuda, Yoichi Hayakawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Tonic immobility (death-feigning) behavior of the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum, is a predator defense mechanism; it is a reflex elicited when a beetle is jarred with the substrate, often a result of the activities of a predator. We previously demonstrated that the frequency of predation by a jumping spider, Hasarius adansoni, was significantly lower among beetles with higher frequencies and longer durations of tonic immobility (L-type) than those with lower frequencies and shorter durations of tonic immobility (S-type). However, we found that the population of L-type beetles is much smaller than that of S-type beetles in their natural habitat. Here we demonstrated that L-type beetles are significantly more sensitive to environmental stressors such as mechanical vibration and high or low temperatures. We measured expression levels of stress-responsive genes such as heat shock proteins ( Hsps) and antioxidant enzymes in both types of beetles. Among the genes we investigated, only catalase gene expression levels were significantly higher in S-type than in L-type beetles. Furthermore, a similar difference in the gene expression was observed in the T. castaneum ortholog of the insect cytokine growth-blocking peptide ( GBP) gene. These results indicate the possibility that high expression of catalase and GBP in S-type beetles contributes to augmentation of their anti-stress capacity and expansion of their population in their natural habitat.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-97
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • Catalase
  • Death-feigning
  • Growth-blocking peptide (GBP)
  • Stress
  • Tonic immobility
  • Tribolium castaneum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Insect Science


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