Living With Hemoglobin

Chironomid

Chironomid Adult

Chironomids are some of the earliest flies to appear in spring in Indiana. The adults feed and mate on land, but the larvae are aquatic. Larvae can live in oxygen poor environments such as storm sewers and stagnant water and may be dominant in anoxic waters. Chironomid larvae are distinguished by their bright red color that is due to the presence of hemoglobin in their blood (hemolymph). The hemoglobins function as oxygen storage and transport proteins.

The midge, Chironomus tentans, has 40 hemoglobin genes in its genome.* The reason behind the large number of gene is unclear. Adults typically do not have hemoglobin in the blood, but females produce it in fat body, presumably to package into the egg yolk.

*Thorsten Burmestera & Thomas Hankeln. 2007. The respiratory proteins of insects. Abstract
Journal of Insect Physiology 53 (2007) 285–294

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Biomaterials, by jjneal, Environment. Bookmark the permalink.

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