Gut Bugs Affect Cockroach Poop-ularity

Commensal bacteria living in the gastrointestinal tracts of cockroaches lace the insects’ feces with chemical cues that mediate social behavior, according to a study.

By | December 9, 2015

WIKIMEDIA, EPAThe microbiome isn’t just important for digestion and immunity; it may also have a hand in social relationships among animals. At least that seems to be the case in German cockroaches, according to a study published this week (December 7) in PNAS, in which researchers showed that volatile compounds produced by bacterial fermentation attracts the insects to aggregate. “Only now are we beginning to appreciate the involvement of microbes in animal communication and behavioral systems,” study coauthor Coby Schal, a professor of entomology at North Carolina State University, told Smithsonian. “This is one of the cleanest examples of this type of thing.”

Researchers have known since the 1970s that cockroaches are attracted to their own poop. Schal and his group determined that even cockroaches that were raised in sterile conditions so that they’d carry no bacteria in their guts are attracted to microbe-rich feces. The sterile excrement lacked volatile fatty acids called carboxylic acids, which may influence cockroach behavior. When the researchers created a synthetic mixture of six common carboxylic acids, the insects gathered ’round. “So we conclude that it’s the bacteria rather than the cockroach itself that are involved in producing this signal,” Schal told Smithsonian.

And Schal suspects that cockroaches are not unusual in this regard. Indeed, previous work has suggested a similar role for the bacteria in hyenas’ anal scent glands, where the microbes produce fatty acids that may aid individual recognition to distinguish group members from intruders. “I think in the next year or so we’re going to see lots of examples of this type of thing occurring in nature, from insects all the way up, possibly, to humans,” he told Smithsonian

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Avatar of: James V. Kohl

James V. Kohl

Posts: 481

December 9, 2015

"Only now are we beginning to appreciate the involvement of microbes in animal communication and behavioral systems,” study coauthor Coby Schal...

That fact may help others to acknowledge facts about the nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled physiology of reproduction in species from microbes to man.

For example, gut microbes link atoms to ecosystems via what is currently known about thermodynamic cycles of nutrient-dependent protein biosynthesis and degradation that link the epigenetic landscape to the physical landscape of supercoiled DNA via microRNAs and cell adhesion proteins.

Indeed, more than 45,000 citations to works that link the microRNA/messenger RNA balance to RNA-directed DNA methylation and cell type differntiation can be found via a PubMed search for microRNA.

One recent open access review links the emergence of microRNAs to the evolution of increasing organismal complexity via gene regulation that contributes to the diversity of organisms. MicroRNA Mechanisms of Action: What have We Learned from Mice?

What has been learned from mice links what has been learned about cell type differentiation in all living genera. It can readily be linked from the sequencing of the octopus genome across all invertebrates to vertebrates via what is known to serious scientists about physics, protein-folding chemistry, and the conserved molecular mechanisms of cell type differentiation that link atoms to ecosystems.

However, it may be best to start with nutrient energy-dependent base pair changes and RNA-mediated amino acid substitutions to avoid the traps set by evolutionary theorists. Those traps have forced others to report their findings in the terms used by pseudoscientists to link mutation-driven evolution to all biomass.

See for comparison: All About that Base (Meghan Trainor Parody) The brief parody can be viewed in the context of Schrodinger's claims in "What is Life?" For example, sunlight seems most likely to be the source of anti-entropic energy that prevents virus-driven entropy in the organized genomes of all living genera.

I agree that

“... in the next year or so we’re going to see lots of examples of this type of thing occurring in nature, from insects all the way up, possibly, to humans”...

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