Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Butterflies Lose Body Fat During Metamorphosis

Date:
March 21, 2006
Source:
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Summary:
A group of scientists from Oregon have discovered that butterflies experience a great loss in body fat during metamorphosis. The details of their findings appear in the March issue of the Journal of Lipid Research, an American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology journal.

A group of scientists from Oregon have discovered that butterflies experience a great loss in body fat during metamorphosis. The details of their findings appear in the March issue of the Journal of Lipid Research, an American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology journal.

"The transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly is one on nature's great mysteries," says William E. Connor of the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. "Powerful chemical mediators are necessary to produce this transformation. We hypothesized that considerable energy would be necessary for metamorphosis to occur. It appears as though the larva is sleeping, and one might think that very little energy would be required in hibernation, but the reverse must be true since a great deal of metabolic activity is occurring in the butterfly chrysalis."

Because of this energy expenditure, Connor and his colleagues surmised that butterflies experience a great loss in body fat during metamorphosis. Using the Blue Morpho butterfly from the Butterfly Farm in Belize, the scientists analyzed the fatty acid composition and content of the butterflies, their diet, and their larva. They were able to do this easily because the larva feed solely on the leaves of the rain forest tree Pterocarpus, on which the butterfly lays its eggs.

On a daily basis, they measured the food consumption of the larva and then analyzed the fatty acid composition and content of the diet as well as the larva. Once the larva had transformed into butterflies, the researchers examined the fatty acid composition and content of the butterfly.

They found that both the diet and the tissues of the larva and butterfly had a high concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids. However, the larva had a much higher total fatty acid content than the butterfly, indicating that the transformation from larva to butterfly drastically reduced the total fatty acid content.

"We were particularly impressed with how the caterpillar concentrated these polyunsaturated fatty acids and then transferred them to the butterfly," says Connor. "The polyunsaturated fatty acids can act as precursor substances for prostaglandin and other ferments that may be very necessary in the health of both the larva and the butterfly and, in particular, the transformation during metamorphosis. The mantra is that every organism has a specific dietary pattern which is important for its maturation and survival. Human beings are much in the same category."

Hoping to build on these initial findings, Connor and his colleagues are planning on looking at the Monarch butterfly next. Monarch larva feed exclusively on milkweed, and Connor has already started growing milkweed and analyzing it for this purpose. "It has very high polyunsaturated fatty acid composition, much like the leaves in Belize which the Blue Morpho caterpillar feeds on," explains Connor.



Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. "Butterflies Lose Body Fat During Metamorphosis." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 March 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060320214642.htm>.
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. (2006, March 21). Butterflies Lose Body Fat During Metamorphosis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060320214642.htm
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. "Butterflies Lose Body Fat During Metamorphosis." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060320214642.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins