Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The Secret Behind Silkworm's Hardy Stomachs

Date:
May 30, 2008
Source:
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Summary:
Researchers have found that silkworms produce a special digestive enzyme, previously not found in any animals, that is not affected by the toxic chemicals found in mulberry leaves.

Silkworm eating mulberry leaf.
Credit: Toru Shimada

Silkworms have a unique ability to eat toxic mulberry leaves without feeling ill, and researchers have come one step closer to understanding why: silkworms contain a special digestive enzyme that is not affected by mulberry's toxic chemicals.

Mulberry leaves contain an extremely high amount of alkaloids that inhibit enzymes that break down sucrose (sugar), and thus are potentially quite toxic. However, one type of sucrase called beta-fructofuranosidase is not affected by these alkaloids.

Until now, this enzyme has not been found in any animals, but Toru Shimada and colleagues believed this might explain the silkworm's unique diet.

The researchers scanned the silkworm genome and discovered two fructofuranosidase genes, although only one was actually expressed in the worm. This gene (BmSuc1) was, as expected, concentrated in the worm's gut, although surprisingly was also prevalent in the silk gland. When they isolated the enzyme from silkworms, the researchers found it could effectively digest sucrose.

Shimada and colleagues note that further work is needed to determine if this special enzyme is the sole reason for silkworm's resistance to mulberry toxins. It's possible that fructofuranosidases may turn up in other insects that cannot eat mulberry leaves, indicating additional factors are at work.


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.


Journal Reference:

  1. Daimon et al. B-fructofuranosidase genes of the silkworm, Bombyx mori: insights into enzymatic adaptation of B. mori to toxic alkaloids in mulberry latex. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2008; 283 (22): 15271 DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M709350200

Cite This Page:

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. "The Secret Behind Silkworm's Hardy Stomachs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080527170509.htm>.
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. (2008, May 30). The Secret Behind Silkworm's Hardy Stomachs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080527170509.htm
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. "The Secret Behind Silkworm's Hardy Stomachs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080527170509.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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