Skeletal muscle metabolism in sea-acclimatized king penguins. I. Thermogenic mechanisms - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Journal of Experimental Biology Year : 2020

Skeletal muscle metabolism in sea-acclimatized king penguins. I. Thermogenic mechanisms

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t fledging, king penguin juveniles undergo a major energetic challenge to overcome the intense and prolonged energy demands for thermoregulation and locomotion imposed by life in cold seas. Among other responses, sea acclimatization triggers fuel selection in skeletal muscle metabolism towards lipid oxidation in vitro, which is reflected by a drastic increase in lipid-induced thermogenesis in vivo. However, the exact nature of skeletal muscle thermogenic mechanisms (shivering and/or non-shivering thermogenesis) remains undefined. The aim of the present study was to determine in vivo whether the capacity for non-shivering thermogenesis was enhanced by sea acclimatization. We measured body temperature, metabolic rate, heart rate and shivering activity in fully immersed king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) exposed to water temperatures ranging from 12 to 29°C. Results from terrestrial pre-fledging juveniles were compared with those from sea-acclimatized immature penguins (hereafter ‘immatures’). The capacity for thermogenesis in water was as effective in juveniles as in immatures, while the capacity for non- shivering thermogenesis was not reinforced by sea acclimatization. This result suggests that king penguins mainly rely on skeletal muscle contraction (shivering or locomotor activity) to maintain endothermy at sea. Sea-acclimatized immature penguins also exhibited higher shivering efficiency and oxygen pulse (amount of oxygen consumed or energy expended per heartbeat) than pre-fledging juvenile birds. Such increase in shivering and cardiovascular efficiency may favor a more efficient activity–thermoregulatory heat substitution providing penguins with the aptitude to survive the tremendous energetic challenge imposed by marine life in cold circumpolar oceans.

Dates and versions

hal-02998636 , version 1 (10-11-2020)



Damien Roussel, Marion Le Coadic, Jean-Louis Rouanet, Claude Duchamp. Skeletal muscle metabolism in sea-acclimatized king penguins. I. Thermogenic mechanisms. Journal of Experimental Biology, 2020, 223 (21), pp.jeb233668. ⟨10.1242/jeb.233668⟩. ⟨hal-02998636⟩
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