Analee Gale

About Analee Gale

Analee Gale is the Food & Health Editor of TBS. Previous to that, she was a freelance writer and editor who has spent so many decades writing about being food and fitness that she sometimes forgets to actually be fit (though she never ever forgets to eat food - hangry is a thing, you know!). Analee made a tree-change from the northern beaches of Sydney, so she now taps out tales from her base in a tiny coastal town in East Gippsland, Victoria.

Why the humble cockroach will outlive us all

With the clouds of nuclear war again forming, perhaps it’s best we make friends with the cockroach family in our kitchen. They’ll know how to survive the wasteland.

 

 

If there was a nuclear holocaust, the chances are high that the earth’s last remaining species to crawl out of the rubble would be those pesky, disgusting bugs that so many of us detest – the cockroach.

These globally unpopular creatures are known transporters of disease-causing bacteria due to them thriving on rotting and fermented foods (and not the type that Pete Evans bangs on about).

Directly from the “Sh*t you don’t need to know, but wow” files comes news that for the first time ever, American researchers have sequenced the genome of Satan’s pet, which has revealed some of the reasons why if the world ever ends, they’ll most likely be the sole survivors.

The genome of the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana) is almost the largest sequenced to-date, second only to the locust. Similar to the locust, the majority of the cockroach’s genome (60%) actually consists of repetitive elements, which means the DNA sequences are repeated over and over.

According to a report published in Nature Communications, the secret to its urban resilience, however, may be due to another part of the roach’s genome. The American cockroach has genes that code for 500 taste receptors and more than 150 scent receptors, which is believed to be the most identified in any insect. These, coupled with hundreds of other chemical receptors, are thought to be the reason why these pests are such effective scavengers.

Alarmingly, it’s also been found that the genetics of cockroaches enables them to actually regrow broken limbs, which incidentally are the same genes found in other insects such as the fruit fly.

Researchers have suggested that future studies should better clarify the evolutionary relationship between cockroaches and termites, as this may identify useful information for the future control of these unwanted critters.

 

 

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