Fat, thin caterpillars are studied

September 21, 2006

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 diamondback 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.

When the caterpillars were reared in carbohydrate-rich environments for multiple generations, they developed the ability to eat excess carbohydrate without adding fat to their bodies, Behmer said. On the other hand, those reared in carbohydrate-poor environments showed an ability to store ingested carbohydrates as fat.

The research was detailed recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Scientists explain why insects don’t get fat

Related Stories

Five edible insects you really should try

September 4, 2013

Edible insects are great alternatives to conventional sources of meat as they're cheap, plentiful and excellent sources of protein and fat, as well as vitamins and minerals.

No cupcakes here! Gold-medal school fights obesity

October 17, 2011

(AP) -- Five-year-olds dance hip-hop to the alphabet. Third-graders learn math by twisting into geometric shapes, fifth-graders by calculating calories. And everyone goes to the gym - every day.

Recommended for you

Energy-saving LEDs boost light pollution worldwide

November 22, 2017

They were supposed to bring about an energy revolution—but the popularity of LED lights is driving an increase in light pollution worldwide, with dire consequences for human and animal health, researchers said Wednesday.

How the Earth stops high-energy neutrinos in their tracks

November 22, 2017

Neutrinos are abundant subatomic particles that are famous for passing through anything and everything, only very rarely interacting with matter. About 100 trillion neutrinos pass through your body every second. Now, scientists ...

Mysterious deep-Earth seismic signature explained

November 22, 2017

New research on oxygen and iron chemistry under the extreme conditions found deep inside the Earth could explain a longstanding seismic mystery called ultralow velocity zones. Published in Nature, the findings could have ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.