Anoxia hormesis improves performance and longevity at the expense of fitness in a classic life history trade-off

Alyssa M.De La Torre, Giancarlo López-Martínez


Hormesis occurs as a result of biphasic dose relationship resulting in stimulatory responses at low doses and inhibitory ones at high doses. In this framework, environmental factors are often studied to understand how this exposure benefits the animal. In the current study we used anoxia, the total absence of oxygen, as the most extreme version of low oxygen hormesis. Our goal was to determine the dose, the extent of the effect, and the cost of that response in Tenebrio molitor. We identified that the hormetic range (1 to 3 h of anoxia) was similar to that of other insects. Individuals that were exposed to 3 h had high emergence, increased activity throughout life, and lived longer. Beetles that experienced 1 h of anoxia performed better than the controls while the 6-h group had compromised performance. These boosts in performance at 3 h were accompanied by significant costs. Treated individuals had a delay in development and once matured they had decreased fitness. There were also transgenerational effects of hormesis and F1 beetles also experienced a delay in development. Additionally, the F1 generation had decreased developmental completion (i.e., stress-induced developmental halt). Our data suggests that anoxia hormesis triggers a trade-off where individuals benefiting from improved performance and living longer experience a decrease in reproduction.

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