Cockroaches quickly lose sweet tooth to survive

0

For decades, people have been getting rid ofcockroaches by setting out bait mixed with poison. But in the late 1980s, in an apartment test kitchen in Florida, something went very wrong.


A killer product stopped working. Cockroach populations there kept rising. Mystified researchers tested and discarded theory after theory until they finally hit on the explanation: In a remarkably rapid display of evolution at work, many of the cockroaches had lost their sweet tooth, rejecting the corn syrup meant to attract them.

In as little as five years, the sugar-rejecting trait had become so widespread that the bait had been rendered useless.

"Cockroaches are highly adaptive, and they're doing pretty well in the arms race with us," said North Carolina State University entomologist Jules Silverman, discoverer of the glucose aversion in that Florida kitchen during a bait test.

The findings illustrate the evolutionary prowess that has helped make cockroaches so hard to stamp out that it is jokingly suggested they could survive nuclear war.

In a study published Thursday in the journal Science, Silverman and other researchers explain the workings of the genetic mutation that gave some roaches a competitive advantage that enabled them to survive and multiply.

Written By: Malcolm Ritter
continue to source article at news.yahoo.com

NO COMMENTS

  1. Use of a poison over decades would kill the roaches who had previously adapted to sweet food sources leaving a gap to be exploited by other roaches that hadn’t the disposition for poison laced sweets. Roaches are incredibly tough anyway. I once found one in a bucket of nappies which were being soaked ready to wash. The ammonia concentration was gagging but the roach wasn’t in the least bit perturbed by it. They also adapt to living in electrical equipment and have been blamed for causing short circuit fires.

  2. I suspect cockroach (mouse, rat) control will head in the high-tech electronics direction. You need a sensor, a microprocessor, and a fast servomotor. The cockroach is attracted to food, trips the sensor, and is flicked into a container by the fast servo. There is not much evolution that will get an insect out of that, except developing a much bigger brain that can detect the trap even after humans camouflage it. Mice and rats might have more of a chance to learn, but I think humans will always have the upper hand.

    The real problems are where bacteria evolve drug resistance.

  3. “But this is not a sign of evolution. Sure, they have changed a little, there’s genetic variation within all species. However, they are still cockroaches. All species have genetic boundaries which mean that genes can change only to a certain extent but no further. Genes cannot change far enough that the animal would evolve into another one.”

    This is probably what a Jehovah’s Witness I met would have said after reading this article.

    • In reply to #4 by Aztek:

      “But this is not a sign of evolution. Sure, they have changed a little, there’s genetic variation within all species. However, they are still cockroaches. All species have genetic boundaries which mean that genes can change only to a certain extent but no further. Genes cannot change far enough that…

      Then tell that witness that there is no difference between what is confusingly called micro and macro evolution. Saying there is such a difference is the same thing as saying there is some fundamental difference between inches and feet. ( or centimeters and meters )

  4. When I was in the army in Cyprus, after dark as you opened the door to the mess kitchen, before you turned on the light a rustling sound would meet your ears; it was that of tens of thousands of cockroaches scurrying away for cover; you may, when the room had been lit spy the last of the red backed creatures before they disappeared into the structure of the building.

    To this day I shudder at the memory!

Leave a Reply