Insect Physiology and Biochemistry: 3rd Edition (Hardback) book cover

Insect Physiology and Biochemistry

3rd Edition

By James L. Nation, Sr.

CRC Press

690 pages | 261 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9781482247589
pub: 2015-07-28

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Employing the clear, student-friendly style that made previous editions so popular, Insect Physiology and Biochemistry, Third Edition presents an engaging and authoritative guide to the latest findings in the dynamic field of insect physiology. The book supplies a comprehensive picture of the current state of the function, development, and reproduction of insects. Expanded and updated, this third edition continues to challenge conventional entomological wisdom with the latest research and analytical interpretations. It will appeal to undergraduate and graduate students and to working scientists in the biological sciences who need to possess a firm knowledge of the broad principles of insect physiology.

See What’s New in the Third Edition:

  • New chapters covering biological rhythms and insect symbioses
  • Adds references from the last several years to bring each chapter up to date
  • Provides new review and self-study questions that aid in distinguishing the most important information and concepts
  • References to websites where illustrative materials have been provided by scientists and contains approximately 2,600 citations
  • Twenty-four pages of color illustrations with new illustrations that emphasize genetic and molecular developments in insect biology
  • Update of the rapidly developing area of postembryonic development of insects, especially the role of the juvenile hormone in insect development

While this edition provides new information and significant updates, it also maintains all the features that made previous editions so popular, such as citations that enable you to get to the primary literature easily and understand the thinking, experimentation, and techniques that have enabled the current understanding of the physiology of insects. And clear writing with technical terms explained in the text where they occur. With more than 250 illustrations to help explain physiological concepts and important anatomical details, the book remains the most easily accessible guide to key concepts in the field.


"This textbook introduces insect biochemistry and physiology for upper-level undergraduates and graduate students. It covers the basic anatomical and physiological systems and includes chapters such as "Embryogenesis," "Nutrition," "Hormones and Development," "Diapause," "Flight," "Immunity," and "Semiochemicals." This third edition (2nd ed., 2008; 1st ed., CH, Jul'02, 39-6414) includes two new chapters on topics of considerable recent research, "Biological Rhythms" and "Insect Symbioses." Although the text of the other 19 chapters from the second edition was not updated, Nation (emer., Univ. of Florida, Gainesville) updated each chapter's list of references. A "Review and Self-Study Questions" section was also added to each chapter. … The volume is clearly written and well organized, facilitating its use as a reference work. Overall, it provides a comprehensive overview of the subject; it will be a useful starting point for students and others seeking to learn the basics of this diverse and broad field. Summing up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals/practitioners."

—R. E. Lee Jr., Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, USA, for CHOICE, March 2016


"Insect Physiology and Biochemistry provides an excellent introduction of the subjects for graduate students and advanced undergraduates for whom it is written and will serve as a primer for the non specialist eager to employ insects as their research models. The text is clear, well arranged, and a pleasure to read. It presents the broad concepts and focuses on contemporary references…In all, this textbook is an impressive work, emblematic of Nation’s ability to present clearly the salient highlights of insect physiology and biochemistry. Its wide adoption as a teaching text is assured."

—William S. Bowers, The University of Arizona, USA Journal of Chemical Ecology, Vol. 28, No. 12

"… This 2nd edition textbook does a nice job of presenting information to students. The 2nd edition of course has been updated. Each chapter has received some updating with most noticeable improvements to the figures. The font has not changed but a better paper has been used to make the text and figures easier to read. The front cover might even be more visually appealing to some, although the content is what is important. In addition several chapters have been added to improve the 2nd edition. One is on diapauses and one about immunity. These were added in response to suggestions made by reviewers of the first edition and are important aspects to include in a text on insect physiology. Studies on diapauses have occurred for quite some time, but more recent insights into the molecular mechanisms behind diapause were also included. Insect immunity is an area of insect physiology that is currently receiving a considerable amount of research attention. This chapter provides students with an overview of this important topic. …Other changes that have improved the second edition are the expansion of chapters on vision and flight. The new edition has been improved with the addition of some color plates placed in the middle of the book. … I would recommend this textbook to all students, faculty, and other scholars studying insects. The new edition is improved and covers almost every aspect of insect physiology. Every student of entomology should have a course in insect physiology and up to date textbooks are required to help teach these courses. James Nation has taught insect physiology and other courses for quite some time and has incorporated that knowledge into this textbook. The references at the end of each chapter are invaluable to new students and old who want to find out more information about certain topics. As more biologists become interested in insects as more genomes are sequenced they will want to know more about how the genes they are studying fit into the physiology and biochemistry of insects in general. Control measures based more on the specifics of insect physiology will also be developed in the future and background information will be required to exploit these technologies. This textbook will provide that background information."

—Russell Jurenka, Department of Entomology, Iowa State University, Ames, in Florida Entomologist

"I found the book Insect Physiology and Biochemistry, Second Edition by James L. Nation extremely useful…. The author has done an excellent job of covering all major topics from a physiological and biochemical point of view, seeking to incorporate the latest in the field of knowledge. In my opinion, the primary strength of the current edition is the comprehensive yet concise manner in which it has dealt with various topics in insect physiology with a biochemical and in some cases a molecular perspective."

—Dr. N. Krishnan, Dept. of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology, Mississippi State University

Table of Contents


Chapter Preview



Genetic Control of Embryogenesis

Segmentation Genes

Homeotic Genes



Imaginal Discs

Review and Self-Study Questions



Chapter Preview


Relationships between Food Habits and Gut Structure and Function

Major Structural Regions of the Gut

Midgut Cell Types

Microvilli or Brush Border of Midgut Cells


Peritrophic Matrix

Digestive Enzymes

Hormonal Influence on Midgut

Countercurrent Circulation of Midgut Contents and Absorption of Digested Products

Transepithelial and Oxidation–Reduction Potential of the Gut

Gut pH

Hematophagy: Feeding on Vertebrate Blood

Digestive System Morphology and Physiology in Major Insect Orders

Insect Gut as a Potential Target for Population Management and Control of theSpread of Plant and Animal Disease Organisms

Review and Self-Study Questions





Importance of Balance in Nutritional Components

Ability of Insects to Self-Select Nutritional Components

Requirements for Specific Nutrients

Techniques and Dietary Terms Used in Insect Nutrition Studies

Criteria for Evaluating Nutritional Quality of a Diet

Measures of Food Intake and Utilization


Feeding Deterrents

Review and Self-Study Questions


Integument and Molting



Structure of the Integument

Molting and Formation of New Cuticle


Chemical Composition of Cuticle

Mineralization of Insect Cuticles

Capture of Atmospheric Water on Cuticular Surfaces

Review and Self-Study Questions


Hormones and Development



Historical Beginnings for the Concept of Hormonal Control of Moltingand Metamorphosis

Interplay of PTTH, Ecdysteroids, and Juvenile Hormone Control Development

Brain Neurosecretory Cells and Prothoracicotropic Hormone

Prothoracic Glands and Ecdysteroids

Corpora Allata and Juvenile Hormones

Mode of Action of Ecdysteroids at the Gene Level

Possible Timer Gene in the Molting Process

Ecdysone–Gene Interaction Ideas Stimulated Vertebrate Work

Review and Self-Study Questions


New! Biological Rhythms



Characteristics of Circadian and Photoperiodic Rhythms

Molecular Basis for the Circadian Clock

Evidence for Clock Genes in Many Insects

Examples of Circadian Functions in Insects

Photoperiodic Response: One Clock, Two Clocks, or Multiple Clocks?

Clock Models Based on Experimental Responses of Insects to VaryingLight/Dark Regimes


Review and Self-Study Questions





Diapause: A Survival Strategy

Phases of Diapause

Hormonal Control of Diapause

Role of Daily and Seasonal Biological Clocks in Diapause

Diapause and Gene Expression

Nutrient Accumulation for Diapause and the Storage and Conservation of Nutrientsduring Diapause

Molecular Studies of Diapause

Review and Self-Study Questions


Intermediary Metabolism


Introduction: Nutrient Stores—The Fat Body

Energy Demands for Insect Flight

Metabolic Stores

Hormones Controlling Carbohydrate Metabolism

Pathways of Metabolism Supporting Intense Muscular Activity, Such as Flight

Review and Self-Study Questions





Central Nervous System


Ventral Ganglia

Oxygen and Glucose Supply to the Brain and Ganglia


Hemolymph–Brain (CNS) Barrier

Neurons: Building Blocks of a Nervous System

Giant Axons in the Insect Central Nervous System

Nervous System Control of Behavior: Motor Programs

Neurosecretory Cells (NSC) and Neurosecretion Products from the CNS

Review and Self-Study Questions





Nerve Cell Responses to Stimuli

Physiological Basis for Neuronal Responses to Stimuli

Conduction of the Action Potential: Local Circuit Theory

Physiology and Biochemistry at the Synapse: Excitatory and Inhibitory PostsynapticPotentials

Acetylcholine-Mediated Synapses

Electric Transmission across Synapses

Neuromuscular Junctions

Review and Self-Study Questions





Basic Muscle Structure and Function

Synchronous and Asynchronous Muscles

Muscle Proteins and Physiology of Contraction

Muscles Involved in General Locomotion, Running, and Jumping

Sound Production: Tymbal and Stridulatory Muscle

Morphology and Physiology of Nonskeletal Muscle

Review and Self-Study Questions


Insect Flight



Thoracic Structure, Wing Hinges, and Muscle Groups Involved in Flight

Wing Strokes

Multiple Contractions from Each Volley of Nerve Impulses to Asynchronous Muscles

Flight in Dragonflies and Damselflies

Aerodynamics of Lift and Drag Forces Produced by Wings

Hovering Flight

Control of Pitch and Twisting of Wings

Power Output of Flight Muscles

Metabolic Activity of Wing Muscles

Flight Behavior

Review and Self-Study Questions


Sensory Systems



External and Internal Receptors Monitoring the Environment

General Functional Classification of Sensory Receptors



Review and Self-Study Questions





Compound Eye Structure

Dioptric Structures

Corneal Layering

Retinula Cells


Electrical Activity of Retinula Cells

Neural Connections in the Optic Lobe


Larval Eyes: Stemmata

Dermal Light Sense

Chemistry of Insect Vision

Visual Cascade

Regulation of the Visual Cascade

Color Vision

Vision Is Important in Behavior

Nutritional Need for Carotenoids in Insects

Detection of Plane-Polarized Light

Visual Acuity

Review and Self-Study Questions


Circulatory System


Introduction: Embryonic Development of the Circulatory System and Hemocytes

Dorsal Vessel: Heart and Aorta

Accessory Pulsatile Hearts



Rate of Circulation


Review and Self-Study Questions





Physical Barriers to Invasion

Cellular Immune Reactions

Recognition of Nonself

Synthesis of Antifungal and Antibacterial Peptides

Toll Pathway for Synthesis of Antimicrobial Peptides

IMD Pathway for Synthesis of Antimicrobial Peptides

C-Type Lectins


Ecology, Behavior, and Immunity

Cost of Defense

Coevolutionary Race between Parasitoid Escape Mechanisms and Host DefenseMechanisms

Autoimmune Consequences of Some Defense Reactions

Gender Differences in Immune Responses


Review and Self-Study Questions





Structure of the Tracheal System

Tracheal Supply to Tissues and Organs

Ventilation and Diffusion of Gases within the System

Discontinuous Gas Exchange

Water Balance during Flight

Gas Exchange in Aquatic Insects

Respiration in Endoparasitic Insects

Respiratory Pigments

Respiration in Eggs and Developing Embryos

Nonrespiratory Functions of the Tracheal System

Review and Self-Study Questions





Malpighian Tubules

Malpighian Tubule Cells

Formation of Primary Urine in Malpighian Tubules

Proton Pump as a Driving Mechanism for Urine Formation and Homeostasis

Selective Reabsorption in the Hindgut

Role of the Excretory System in Maintaining Homeostasis

Cryptonephridial Systems

Self-Study and Review Questions





Classes of Semiochemicals

Importance of the Olfactory Sense in Insects

Active Space Concept

Pheromones Classified according to Behavior Elicited

Pheromone Parsimony

Chemical Characteristics of Semiochemicals

Insect Receptors and the Detection Process

Information Coding and Processing

Hormonal Control of Pheromone Synthesis and Release

Biosynthesis of Pheromones

Geographical and Population Differences and Evolution of Pheromone Blends

Practical Applications of Pheromones

Review and Self-Study Questions





Female Reproductive System

Vitellogenins and Yolk Proteins

Sequestering of Vitellogenins and Yolk Proteins by Oocytes

Formation of the Vitelline Membrane


Gas Exchange in Eggs

Male Reproductive System

Gender Determination

Review and Self-Study Questions


New! Insect Symbioses



Symbioses among Leaf-Cutting Ants, Fungi, and Bacteria

Biology of Termites

Bark and Ambrosia Beetles and Their Symbionts

Buchnera in Aphids

Tsetse Fly Symbionts


Review and Self-Study Questions



About the Author

James L. Nation, Sr. Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of entomology at the University of Florida, Gainesville. He holds a B.S. degree in entomology from Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS, and a Ph.D. in entomology from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. His special interest in entomology is the physiology and biochemistry of insects. Prior to retirement in 2003, he taught and conducted research at the University of Florida for 43 years. Research activities included work in insect excretion, pheromones, cuticular hydrocarbons, and insect nutrition. He served as an associate editor of Florida Entomologist from 1967 to 1969, as an editor of Journal of Chemical Ecology from 1994 to 2000, and as editor of Florida Entomologist from 2004 to 2010.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MEDICAL / Biochemistry
NATURE / Animals / General
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Zoology / Entomology
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / General