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Our paper on kissing bugs thermoregulation is out in eLife!

What a good way to start this week! Our paper on kissing bugs thermoregulation is now out in eLife!

This work is the result of an international collaboration between Brazil (Rafaela Paim and Marcos Pereira), Canada (Xiaojie Luan, George Belev and Juan Ianowski) and France (Teresita Insausti and Claudio Lazzari).

And thanks to Joshua Benoit and David Denlinger for highlighting our work in their eLife insight (

The heat exhanger located in the head of Rhodnius prolixus allows the insect to ingest a huge amount of warm blood without overheating


Blood-sucking insects experience thermal stress at each feeding event on endothermic vertebrates. We used thermography to examine how kissing-bugs Rhodnius prolixusactively protect themselves from overheating. During feeding, these bugs sequester and dissipate the excess heat in their heads while maintaining an abdominal temperature close to ambient. We employed a functional-morphological approach, combining histology, µCT and X-ray-synchrotron imaging to shed light on the way these insects manage the flow of heat across their bodies. The close alignment of the circulatory and ingestion systems, as well as other morphological characteristics, support the existence of a countercurrent heat exchanger in the head of R. prolixus, which decreases the temperature of the ingested blood before it reaches the abdomen. This kind of system has never been described before in the head of an insect. For the first time, we show that countercurrent heat exchange is associated to thermoregulation during blood-feeding.

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