Oct. 27, 2008
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
National journal publishes SRU student-faculty research
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - A Slippery Rock University biology student-faculty research project on the freeze tolerance of caterpillars has been published in Environmental Entomology. The journal is a refereed publication of the Entomological Society of America.
Jack Lane, SRU professor of biology, and Christine Leszczynski, a 2008 biology graduate, studied how giant leopard moth caterpillars withstand varying degrees of cold.
Lane is an expert on the freeze-thaw cycles of caterpillars and frogs that rest near the ground surface during the winter season, freeze and then revive in the spring. Their four-page article "Cold Hardiness and Postfreeze Metabolism in Caterpillars of Hypercompe scribonia (Arctiidaee: Lepidoptera)" appears in the October edition.
Lane and Leszczynski collected caterpillars in western Pennsylvania from 2004-06 and conducted research in Vincent Science Hall. The pair found that caterpillars initially survived freezing at -3 centigrade but died at -10 centigrade.
The team concluded that leopard moth caterpillars have a freeze tolerance level suitable for western Pennsylvania but not much colder regions of North America, which is consistent with distribution of these insects. The findings back up evolutionary processes regarding the adaptation of species to specific environments.
Studying freeze tolerance has potential medical applications to human organ transplant, Layne said. If scientists can learn more about how the organs of animals return to normal function after a freeze, they may be able to extend the shelf life of human organs.
Leszczynski is currently a graduate student in SRU's secondary education/math program.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.