Metabolic Responses of Chick Embryos to Short-Term Temperature Fluctuations

by 5m Editor
21 August 2006, at 12:00am

By A. Lourens, H. van den Brand, M. J. W. Heetkamp, B. Kemp, Wageningen University and Ron Meijerhof, Senior Technical Specialist, Hybro B.V., Boxmeer, The Netherlands - Two experiments were carried out to study embryonic metabolic responses to short-term temperature fluctuations in order to explore the possibilities of using embryonic metabolic responses as a tool to control the incubation process.



In the first experiment, eggshell temperature (ET) in the control group was kept constant at 37.8°C, and embryos in the experimental group were exposed to varying ET within the range of 36.8 to 38.8°C using ET steps of 0.2°C and time steps of 3 h.

This was repeated in 3 periods between 6.5 and 9.5 d, 10.5 and 13.5 d, and 14.5 and 17.5 d. In the studied ET range, heat production (HP) increased linearly at 4.9% per 1°C ET. In the second experiment, a standard machine temperature (MT) was used for the control group, and eggs in the experimental group were exposed to low (MT - 0.3°C) or high (MT + 0.3°C) temperatures for 1 h of time at d 8, 9, and 11 to 16.

When MT was decreased, CO2 production initially increased at 0.5% and decreased thereafter. When MT was increased, CO2 production initially decreased at 0.4% and increased thereafter. It was concluded that embryonic HP responded linearly with short-term ET changes in the studied ET range of 36.8 to 38.8°C. Changes in CO2 concentration due to short-term MT changes could not be explained by embryonic HP only. It can be speculated that blood flow through the chorio-allantoic membrane changes with MT, affecting heat transfer and diffusion of CO2. A second, delayed response to MT changes was in accordance with the findings in Experiment 1.

Within the studied temperature range it will be difficult to use embryonic metabolic responses as a tool to control the incubation process. Because HP is linearly related to ET as in the studied temperature range, other factors such as O2 availability or CO2 release may limit embryo development at higher ET. At this moment, research on the effects of gas exchange at different temperatures on embryo development and survival is lacking.

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June 2006