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Mitochondrial phenotypic flexibility enhances energy savings during winter fast in king penguin chicks

Pierre-Axel Monternier 1 Vincent Marmillot 1 Jean-Louis Rouanet 1 Damien Roussel 1 
1 E2C - Équipe 4 - Écophysiologie, Comportement, Conservation
LEHNA - Laboratoire d'Ecologie des Hydrosystèmes Naturels et Anthropisés
Abstract : Energy conservation is a key priority for organisms that live in environments with seasonal shortages in resource supplies or that spontaneously fast during their annual cycle. The aim of this study was to determine whether the high fasting endurance of winter- acclimatized king penguin chicks (Aptenodytes patagonicus) is associated with an adjustment of mitochondrial bioenergetics in pectoralis muscle, the largest skeletal muscle in penguins. The rates of mitochondrial oxygen consumption, and ATP synthesis and mitochondrial efficiency (ATP/O ratio) were measured in winter- acclimatized chicks. We used pyruvate/malate and palmitoyl-L- carnitine/malate as respiratory substrates and results from naturally fasted chicks were compared to experimentally re-fed chicks. Bioenergetics analysis of pectoralis muscle revealed that mitochondria are on average 15% more energy efficient in naturally fasted than in experimentally fed chicks, indicating that fasted birds consume less nutrients to sustain their energy-demanding processes. We also found that moderate reductions in temperature from 38°C to 30°C further increase by 23% the energy coupling efficiency at the level of mitochondria, suggesting that king penguin chicks realize additional energy savings while becoming hypothermic during winter. It has been calculated that this adjustment of mitochondrial efficiency in skeletal muscle may contribute to nearly 25% of fasting-induced reduction in mass-specific metabolic rate measured in vivo. The present study shows that the regulation of mitochondrial efficiency triggers the development of an economical management of resources, which would maximize the conservation of endogenous fuel stores by decreasing the cost of living in fasted winter- acclimatized king penguin chicks.
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Submitted on : Friday, October 24, 2014 - 9:28:09 AM
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Pierre-Axel Monternier, Vincent Marmillot, Jean-Louis Rouanet, Damien Roussel. Mitochondrial phenotypic flexibility enhances energy savings during winter fast in king penguin chicks. Journal of Experimental Biology, 2014, 217, pp.2691-2697. ⟨10.1242/jeb.104505⟩. ⟨hal-01077149⟩



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