Friday, September 22, 2006

 

Fat, thin caterpillars are studied (Metabolic evolution)

A U.S.-led international team of scientists says there's no obesity epidemic among insects and the researchers believe they now know why.

Spencer Behmer, an entomologist with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, and colleagues conducted a series of experiments to determine whether caterpillars could adapt to extreme changes in their nutritional environment.

By manipulating the nutritional environment of diamond-back moth caterpillars, the researchers found the insects evolved different physiological mechanisms related to fat metabolism. Which mechanism was used depended on whether the caterpillars were given carbohydrate-rich or carbohydrate-poor food.

The scientists theorize caterpillars - and animals in general - can evolve metabolically to adjust to extreme nutritional environments. [Evolution, Entomology]
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Based on the PNAS paper "Evolving resistance to obesity in an insect" (Abstract)

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