Letter | Published:

Cuticular Water Pump in Insects

Naturevolume 214pages383384 (1967) | Download Citation



AMONG the ways in which terrestrial arthropods can control their environmental water relations, the active retention of water1, the regulation of water loss2, and the active uptake of atmospheric water3 have been found to be concerned with the movement of water through the cuticle. All these phenomena imply a water pump associated with the cuticle and the most satisfactory mechanism so far proposed is based on an active process which reduces the water content of the solid cuticle to a level below that which would be in equilibrium with the blood4. If the gradient of water activity between atmosphere and inner cuticle across the epicuticular wax layer can be increased, retention, regulation or active uptake will be a consequence of the new conditions thus established. The body of evidence for a water pump makes it clear that, if reduction of cuticular water-content is a part of the mechanism, it should be sufficiently large to be demonstrable. This communication reports preliminary results of an investigation of the possibility of a water pump in the cuticle of two species of insect, the cockroach Periplaneta americana and the locust Locusta migratoria.

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  1. 1

    Lees, A. D., Parasitology, 37, 1 (1946).

  2. 2

    Winston, P. W., and Nelson, V. E., J. Exp. Biol., 43, 257 (1965).

  3. 3

    Beament, J. W. L., Biol. Rev., 36, 281 (1961).

  4. 4

    Beament, J. W. L., Symp. Soc. Exp. Biol., 19, 273 (1965).

  5. 5

    Ramsay, J. A., and Brown, R. H. J., J. Sci. Instrum., 32, 372 (1955).

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    Present address: Department of Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado


  1. Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge



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