Insect flight muscle
Young, Iain S. Department of Pure and Applied Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom.
Altringham, John D. Department of Pure and Applied Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom.
Last reviewed:April 2019
- Direct flight muscle
- Indirect flight muscle
- Synchronous muscle
- Asynchronous muscle
- Body size
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The muscular anatomy that allows many insects to fly. The ability of flight in flying insects (class Insecta, phylum Arthropoda) is one of the key evolutionary adaptations that ensured the survival and dissemination of these animals. In general, insect flight muscle is divided on structural and physiological grounds into synchronous and asynchronous types, and on the basis of its mechanical operation within the insect into direct and indirect flight muscles. There is a large degree of structural diversity between the types of synchronous muscle, but the functional distinction between synchronous muscle and asynchronous muscle is far more fundamental. The fibers of all insect flight muscles are rich in mitochondria (specialized organelles that are necessary for cellular respiration and energy production) and rely on aerobic metabolism, furnishing the means to meet the high energy demands of flight. Overall, the elements of the muscular system of flying insects evolved to provide these creatures with a highly efficient and specialized ability of flight (Fig. 1). See also: Adaptation (biology); Animal evolution; Flight; Insect physiology; Insecta; Metabolism; Mitochondria; Muscle; Muscular system
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