Tracheal System in Respiratory System

The majority of the invertebrates have gills and a tracheal system for respiration. The respiratory system of the invertebrates is in contrast to the well-developed lung structure and diffusion mechanism. The tracheal system of respiration is the sound of the majority of insects. The body of the insects has openings known as spiracles which are beside the thorax and the abdomen. These openings link to the network of tubes so that the oxygen passes into the body, thereby causing the diffusion of water vapor and carbon dioxide. The air in and out is majorly through the spiracles. However, few insects can ventilate the system of the trachea to bring about body movements.

Some invertebrates and insects exchange gases such as carbon dioxide and oxygen between their internal tissues and the environment by a network of air-filled tubes known as tracheae. The spiracle is the structure of the tracheal system that is open to the outside to allow the entry and exit of air between the body tissues and the environment. These spiracles are small hole structure. For instance- in grasshopper, the spiracles are present between the first and the third thoracic segment on each side of the body. On either of the abdomen, 8 pairs of spiracles are assembled. The spiracles are guarded by few muscles in the case of a grasshopper to aid the opening and the closing movement. The spiracles are also surrounded by a hair-like structure to filter the air entering in. The spiracles open into a large tube of the trachea. However, these in turn branch into minute tubes. These minute branches penetrate through all the structures of the body. The extreme ends of the tracheal tube are known as tracheoles which are around 1 micron in diameter. The ends of the trachea are present beside every cell of the body of the insects. The tracheal system in Drosophila was studied and it was suggested that certain minute tracheal tubes are also present next to T-tubules of the mitochondria. This was identified by the photomicrograph as a stiffened band of chitin. These structures have a restriction on the pressure that they are capable to handle. This might be the reason behind the small size of the insects. As the weight of the tissues increases such as in rabbits, the tracheal tubes will be only filled with air to prevent it from crushing.

The tracheal system is used for ventilation and gas exchange in less active and small insects by simple diffusion. However, the insects give out carbon dioxide and water vapor and this will be a problem in the environment that is dry. In the case of Drosophila, the insect controls the opening size of the spiracles to match the requirement of the oxygen for the flight muscles. When the oxygen demand is less, the spiracle is partially closed thereby conserving the water in the body. Inactive and huge insects such as grasshoppers ventilate their trachea forcibly. The muscles found in the abdomen area contract and compress the organs in the interior of the body thereby forcing the air to get outside the trachea. When the muscles loosen and relax, the abdomen comes back to the normal shape and volume and starts to draw in air. The main tracheal tube is attached to large air sacs to improve the efficiency of this action. An experiment was conducted by Fraenkel illustrated that in the grasshopper, there is a single way of airflow. As the air enters the spiracles present in the thorax, the liquid seals the tube so that the air moves to the right side and is expelled by the spiracles of the abdomen. The diaphragm which is like rubber seals the abdomen from the thorax. This one-way airflow increases the gas exchange efficiency as the carbon dioxide-rich air can be liberated out without it being mixed with incoming oxygen-rich air.


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