Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The power of the power nap – Scientists uncover secrets of hibernation

07.11.2014

For hibernating mammals, the pre-winter months are a race against time to accumulate enough energy reserves to last until spring. Offspring born late in the year have much less time to achieve this.

Scientists from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology at the Vetmeduni Vienna have discovered that power-napping can help late-born garden dormice overcome these unfavourable odds. The scientists also found a link between time spent at higher temperatures and ageing. The results were published in the Journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.


The garden dormouse is native to Europe and lives mainly in the forest.

Photo: Stefan Stumpfel / Vetmeduni Vienna

During hibernation, dormice enter into ‘torpor’ to save energy and water. In this state, the dormice become inactive and show a marked decrease in their metabolic rate, causing their body temperature to reduce.

Torpor was then found to be a strategy used when food availability was limited. The researchers compared two groups of juveniles born late in the season – one able to feed freely and the other intermittently fasted on alternate days. The fasted dormice showed considerably greater use of torpor, enabling them to maintain high growth rates and accumulate sufficient fat reserves. “The longer an animal stays in torpor, the more energy it saves”, says Sylvain Giroud, who led the study.

Torpor use was measured using temperature loggers placed in the nests of the animals, which detected the sharp drop in body temperature occurring during torpor.

“Torpor was only viewed as a means to save energy and water, but during the last decade other functions have emerged. These include promoting growth during early life and fattening prior to hibernation, as well as slowing ageing processes” added Giroud.

Indeed, torpor and hibernation are associated with slowing ageing processes and increase of longevity. In their study, the researchers have also provided the first evidence for a functional link between time spent at high body temperature (euthermic) and ageing processes over winter. “Our data indicate that the main effects of hibernation on ageing processes are linked to euthermic episodes which are associated with the shortening of telomeres, an indicator of ageing”, the researchers concluded.

Ongoing research of Giroud’s group is now focusing on comparing late-born juvenile garden dormice with their early-born counterparts. The early-born juveniles are expected to use less torpor, to grow at a lower rate and to reach higher fattening levels prior to winter hibernation. Giroud and his colleagues are going to investigate the impact of lower growth rates and higher pre-hibernation fattening on ageing. “We hope to unravel the mechanisms involved in torpor use and ageing processes in individuals facing contrasted environmental conditions during their early life”, says Giroud.

Giroud worked together with colleagues from the University of Western Sydney (Australia) and the University of Strasbourg (France).

Service:
The article „Late-born intermittently fasted juvenile garden dormice use torpor to grow and fatten prior to hibernation: consequences for ageing processes“, by Sylvain Giroud, Sandrine Zahn, Francois Criscuolo, Isabelle Chery, Stéphane Blanc, Christopher Turbill and Thomas Ruf was published on the 5th of November in the Journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2014.1131
http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/281/1797/20141131.abstract

About the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
The University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna in Austria is one of the leading academic and research institutions in the field of Veterinary Sciences in Europe. About 1,300 employees and 2,300 students work on the campus in the north of Vienna which also houses five university clinics and various research sites. Outside of Vienna the university operates Teaching and Research Farms. http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at

Scientific Contact:
Dr Sylvain Giroud
Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-7135
sylvain.giroud@vetmeduni.ac.at

Released by:
Susanna Kautschitsch
Science Communication / Public Relations
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-1153
susanna.kautschitsch@vetmeduni.ac.at


Weitere Informationen:

http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at/en/infoservice/presseinformation/press-releases-2014/the-power-of-the-power-nap-scientists-uncover-secrets-of-hibernation/

Dr. Susanna Kautschitsch | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Discovery of a Key Regulatory Gene in Cardiac Valve Formation
24.05.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Carcinogenic soot particles from GDI engines
24.05.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>