Avian red blood cell mitochondria produce more heat in winter than in autumn

Nord, A., Metcalfe, N. B. , Page, J. L., Huxtable, A., McCafferty, D. J. and Dawson, N. J. (2021) Avian red blood cell mitochondria produce more heat in winter than in autumn. FASEB Journal, 35(5), e21490. (doi: 10.1096/fj.202100107R) (PMID:33829547)

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Endotherms in cold regions improve heat‐producing capacity when preparing for winter. We know comparatively little about how this change is fueled by seasonal adaptation in cellular respiration. Thus, we studied the changes of mitochondrial function in red blood cells in sympatric Coal (Periparus ater), Blue (Cyanistes caeruleus), and Great (Parus major) tits between autumn and winter. These species differ more than twofold in body mass and in several aspects of their foraging ecology and social dominance, which could require differential seasonal adaptation of energy expenditure. Coal and Great tits in particular upregulated the mitochondrial respiration rate and mitochondrial volume in winter. This was not directed toward ATP synthesis, instead reflecting increased uncoupling of electron transport from ATP production. Because uncoupling is exothermic, this increased heat‐producing capacity at the sub‐cellular level in winter. This previously unexplored the route of thermogenesis in birds should be addressed in future work.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The study was supported by funds from the Birgit and Hellmuth Hertz Foundation / The Royal Physiographic Society of Lund (grant 2017-39034), the Carl Trygger Foundation for Scientific Research (grant 18:280), and Stiftelsen Lunds Djurskyddsfond (to AN). NJD and NBM were funded by NERC (grant NE/R001510/1).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McCafferty, Dr Dominic and Nord, Dr Andreas and Dawson, Dr Neal and Metcalfe, Professor Neil and Huxtable, Ms Anna and Page, Ms Jennifer
Authors: Nord, A., Metcalfe, N. B., Page, J. L., Huxtable, A., McCafferty, D. J., and Dawson, N. J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:FASEB Journal
Publisher:Federation of American Society of Experimental Biology
ISSN (Online):1530-6860
Published Online:07 April 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in FASEB Journal 35(5):e21490
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
301347Why do fish fail at high temperatures?Neil MetcalfeNatural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/R001510/1Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine