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New Study Explains How Animals Can Sense Change in Temperature

Oct 24, 2016 07:54 AM EDT

In an interesting experiment on frogs, scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara found that the craving of amphibians to escape from very hot water goes down drastically when the temperature of the water rises at a moderate pace, according to a recent report published in ScienceDaily. The same is the response of animals and humans to temperature and is equally impacted by the rate at which the temperature rises. However, the exact process has not yet been understood.

In order to find out the reason behind this, Craig Montell, a professor at UC Santa Barbara, and two graduate students, Wei Shen and Junjie Luo, created a model in the form of fruit fly larvae to unearth the technique by which the animals display different behavioral tendencies to different rates of rise in temperature.

The researchers found that when the temperature of water was raised by 25 degrees Fahrenheit in a short interval, the fruit fly larvae exhibited a squirming response. On the contrary, when the temperature was increased at a slow rate, the number of animals that reacted was pretty less. And for those animals whose reaction was writhing, the average threshold temperature was found to be considerably higher. These animals respond to dangerously high temperatures by commencing an escape response, said Montell. When the change in temperature is very rapid, they want to safeguard the brain, which is particularly seen in fly larvae since they are cold-blooded and the temperature of their body equilibrates to the outside. The thermosensory neurons in the animal's brain sense the change that leads to a writhing response. Furthermore, the researchers found that the temperature change stimulates a protein known as TRPA1, which represents the cellular temperature sensor. When the temperature rises at a moderate pace, the activity levels of TRPA1 get decreased.

To conclude, the researchers said that all these mechanisms are crucial for the survival of an animal and can help understand how different species react to temperature changes. The study was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

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