Attending to the underside of how crimson flour beetles soak up water by means of their butts

Who <em>doesn't</em> thrill to the sight of a microscopic cross-section of a beetle's rectum? You're welcome.

Enlarge / Who does not thrill to the sight of a microscopic cross-section of a beetle’s rectum? You are welcome. (credit score: Kenneth Veland Halberg)

There’s hardly ever time to jot down about each cool science-y story that comes our means. So this 12 months, we’re as soon as once more working a particular Twelve Days of Christmas sequence of posts, highlighting one science story that fell by means of the cracks in 2023, every day from December 25 by means of January 5. At present: crimson flour beetles can use their butts to suck water from the air, serving to them survive in extraordinarily dry environments. Scientists are honing in on the molecular mechanisms behind this distinctive potential.

The common-or-garden crimson flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum) is a standard pantry pest feeding on saved grains, flour, cereals, pasta, biscuits, beans, and nuts. It is a remarkably hardy creature, able to surviving in harsh arid environments as a consequence of its distinctive potential to extract fluid not simply from grains and different meals sources, but additionally from the air. It does this by opening its rectum when the humidity of the ambiance is comparatively excessive, absorbing moisture by means of that opening, and changing it into fluid that’s then used to hydrate the remainder of the physique.

Scientists have recognized about this potential for greater than a century, however biologists are lastly beginning to get to the underside (ahem) of the underlying molecular mechanisms, in response to a March paper revealed within the Proceedings of the Nationwide Academies of Science. This may inform future analysis on how you can interrupt this hydration course of to raised hold crimson flour beetle populations in examine, since they’re extremely immune to pesticides. They’ll additionally stand up to even greater ranges of radiation than the cockroach.

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