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Wednesday, September 6, 2017
Drink up: Cockroach milk is the protein drink you didn't know you've been missing
Hat Tip: Weasel Zippers
The following report
appeared on CNN in July of 2016
By Susan Scutti
CNN)A little cockroach milk with those cookies? Chock full of protein, the
insect milk may someday be transformed into a food supplement worthy of human
consumption, new research indicates.
have found that the Pacific Beetle Cockroach feeds its bug babies a formula
which is remarkably rich in protein, fat and sugar.
Don't expect to find it next to the
regular milk in the dairy section, however, at least not for now.
Most people would agree. After all,
the insect liquid takes the form of protein crystals in the guts of baby
Cockroach protein crystals
"The protein crystals are milk
for the cockroach infant. It is important for its growth and development,"
said Leonard Chavas, one of the scientists behind the research. He explained
the crystals have a whopping three times the energy of an equivalent mass of
buffalo milk, about four times the equivalent of cow's milk.
The cockroach is one of the hardiest
creatures on the planet; it can live for a month without food.
"The interest here was, what is
it really made of?" said Chavas, one of the authors of the research,
published in July in the journal International Union of Crystallography.
Chavas and his colleagues examined
the species, also known as Diploptera punctata, which is the only species of
cockroach known to be viviparous -- able to bring forth live babies that have
developed within the mother's body, instead of the mother laying eggs to
develop outside her body.
Like other viviparous creatures, this
species of roach nourishes its growing embryos with a protein-rich liquid
secreted by its brood sac -- the roach version of a uterus.
Crystal cockroach milk.
Soon after the embryo ingests the
liquid, protein crystals develop within its midgut. Chavas and his colleagues
extracted one of these crystals to learn more about it and its potential
nutrition. Following tests and even genome sequencing, they discovered it was a
"It is what one would need:
protein, essential amino acids, lipids and sugars," Chavas said,
explaining that the energy content is so high that it helps infants within this
unique species grow much bigger than cockroach babies of other species.
Though the crystal formation may seem
surprising, other crystals, including insulin, take shape within the body for
easier bodily storage -- and it could have potential for human consumption, the
So, how do you milk a cockroach?
The crystals are currently extracted
from the midgut of cockroach embryos -- perhaps not the most efficient way of
feeding a growing world population.
Ultimately, however, Chavas and his
team are hoping to reverse bioengineer cockroach milk, but first they need to
understand the exact biological and chemical mechanisms underlying the process.
For now, we are trying to understand
how to control this phenomena in a much easier way, to bring it to mass
production," Chavas said.
Having lost a drinking game with his
colleagues, Chavas tasted the cockroach milk once. "No particular
taste," he commented, though the idea of ice cream appeals to him. He
imagines "a flavor with honey and crispy pieces."
Laugh as you may, there is no irony
lost on the fact that that this insect that can survive a nuclear disaster may
someday provide the ultimate liquid superfood.
Intern Clara Lindh contributed to
Ed.Please help Candidate Roy Moore
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