eCite Digital Repository

Development of the respiratory system in marsupials


Frappell, P and MacFarlane, PM, Development of the respiratory system in marsupials, Respiration Physiology and Neurobiology, 154, (1-2) pp. 252-267. ISSN 1569-9048 (2006) [Refereed Article]

Restricted - Request a copy

Copyright Statement

The definitive version is available at

Official URL:

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.resp.2006.05.001


Marsupials at birth are small and relatively undeveloped. At birth, the lung in some species is at the canalicular stage of development and though lung diffusion and metabolic rate are strongly correlated, the allometric exponent suggests that smaller newborns have relatively smaller diffusing capacity with respect to their demand for oxygen. Without improvement in functional or structural parameters newborn marsupials are reliant to varying degrees on skin gas exchange to compensate for the immaturity of the lung. Indeed, in some species there is complete reliance on the skin for gas exchange at birth. Nevertheless, with an early dependence on ventilation, the CNS would appear already to contain neurons with properties and connections that permit rhythmic motor output at birth and pulmonary reflexes mature soon after. Despite appropriate neural control and the presence of surfactant, the highly compliant nature of the newborn chest wall results in substantial chest wall distortion during inspiratory effort which reduce the efficacy of the lung for ventilation. This review explores the morpho-functional development of the respiratory system, including oxygen transport and cardiac shunts, and the establishment of convective requirement in marsupials, a group that places emphasis on extended postnatal development.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Lungs; Development; Morphometry; Ventilation; Breathing pattern; Convective requirement; Control of breathing; Neural rhythmogenesis; Pulmonary reflexes; Respiratory system; Mechanics; Surfactant; Cadiovascular; Oxygen transport; Marsupial; Metabolic
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Comparative physiology
Objective Division:Animal Production and Animal Primary Products
Objective Group:Other animal production and animal primary products
Objective Field:Animal welfare
UTAS Author:Frappell, P (Professor Peter Frappell)
ID Code:68885
Year Published:2006
Web of Science® Times Cited:28
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2011-03-30
Last Modified:2011-04-07
Downloads:1 View Download Statistics

Repository Staff Only: item control page