Navigation Links
Biologists discover 'death stench' is a universal ancient warning signal
Date:9/11/2009

HAMILTON, Ont. September 11, 2009The smell of recent death or injury that repels living relatives of insects has been identified as a truly ancient signal that functions to avoid disease or predators, biologists have discovered.

David Rollo, professor of biology at McMaster University, found that corpses of animals, from insects to crustaceans, all emit the same death stench produced by a blend of specific fatty acids.

The findings have been published in the journal Evolutionary Biology.

Rollo and his team made the discovery while they were studying the social behavior of cockroaches. When a cockroach finds a good place to live it marks the site with pheromone odours that attract others. In trying to identify the precise chemicals involved, Rollo extracted body juices from dead cockroaches.

"It was amazing to find that the cockroaches avoided places treated with these extracts like the plague," says Rollo. "Naturally, we wanted to identify what chemical was making them all go away."

The team eventually identified the specific chemicals that signaled death. Furthermore, they found that the same fatty acids not only signaled death in ants, caterpillars, and cockroaches, they were equally effective in terrestrial woodlice and pill bugs that are actually not insects but crustaceans related to crayfish and lobsters.

Because insects and crustaceans diverged more than 400-million years ago it is likely that most subsequent species recognize their dead in a similar way, that the origin of such signals was likely even older, and that such behaviour initially occurred in aquatic environments (few crustaceans are terrestrial).

"Recognizing and avoiding the dead could reduce the chances of catching the disease, or allow you to get away with just enough exposure to activate your immunity," says Rollo. Likewise, he adds, release of fatty acids from dismembered body parts could provide a strong warning that a nasty predator was nearby.

"As explained in our study, fatty acidsoleic or linoleic acidsare reliably and quickly released from the cells following death. Evolution appears to have favoured such clues because they were reliably associated with demise, and avoiding contagion and predation are rather critical to survival."

The generality and strength of the phenomenon, coupled with the fact that the fatty acids are essential nutrients rather than pesticides, holds real promise for applications such as plant and stored product protection or exclusion of household pests.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jane Christmas
chrisja@mcmaster.ca
McMaster University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. UTSA plant biologists publish where their peers are -- on the Web
2. Microbiologists find defense molecule that senses respiratory viruses
3. Geobiologists propose that the earliest complex organisms fed by absorbing ocean buffet
4. Biologists rediscover endangered frog population
5. Smaller plants punch above their weight in the forest, say Queens biologists
6. Biologists devise unifying framework to explain evolutionary puzzles
7. Biologists consider unifying framework to explain evolutionary puzzles
8. CCNY, CSHL biologists find birdsong of isolates reverts to norm over several generations
9. FANTOM findings boost for biologists
10. Penn biologists discover how silent mutations influence protein production
11. UIC biologists use DNA to study migration of threatened whale sharks
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/16/2016)... The global wearable medical device market, in terms of ... USD 5.31 billion in 2016, at a CAGR of 18.0% during ... ... in medical devices, launch of a growing number of smartphone-based healthcare ... healthcare providers, and increasing focus on physical fitness. ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... -- ... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Global Military ... report forecasts the global military biometrics market to grow at a CAGR ... been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry ... the coming years. The report also includes a discussion of the key ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... 2016 "Increase in mobile transactions is driving ... biometrics market is expected to grow from USD 4.03 ... at a CAGR of 29.3% between 2016 and 2022. ... growing demand for smart devices, government initiatives, and increasing ... component is expected to grow at a high rate ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/24/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... January 24, 2017 , ... ... waist circumference, and increased serum leptin levels had a positive association with increased ... The study published in the International Neurourology Journal involved 571 Korean men ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... & Geneva, Switerland (PRWEB) , ... January 24, ... ... announce the first commercially available malaria Plasmodium falciparum culture panels with standard concentrations ... culture panels, which are available in a range of concentrations from six different ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... LAVAL, QC , Jan. 24, 2017 /PRNewswire/ - ProMetic ... the "Corporation") announced today that its orally active lead ... Medicine ("PIM") designation by the UK Medicines and Healthcare ... Syndrome ("AS"). A PIM designation is ... promising candidate for the Early Access to Medicines Scheme ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... ... 23, 2017 , ... Edward Buckler, Ph.D., a research geneticist ... Academy of Sciences Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences. He is being honored ... Academy of Sciences (NAS) Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences was established in ...
Breaking Biology Technology: