An international team of scientists from the Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in India sequenced a protein crystal found in the midgut of cockroaches. For what purpose?
As they point out in their study, this substance is four times more nutritious than cow’s milk, so the researchers do not rule out that it may serve to feed the world’s growing population in the near future.
While most of these insects do not actually produce milk, the cypress cockroach or Pacific cockroach beetle (Diploptera punctate), which is the only one of its species that gives birth to live young, has been shown to secrete a type of “ milk ”that contains protein crystals to feed their young.
That an insect produces milk is particularly strange to us. But one fact that fascinated scientists is that these protein crystals have more than triple the calories found in an equivalent amount of buffalo milk (which is also higher in calories than cow’s milk).
Clearly, the hardest part of the matter would be milking a cockroach, so the scientists decided to sequence the genes responsible for producing these milk protein crystals in order to evaluate the possibility of replicating them in the laboratory.
This was explained by Sanchari Banerjee, one of the co-authors of the research, in a report for the Times of India:
Crystals are like SUPER food: they have proteins, fats, and sugars. If you look at the protein sequences, they have all the essential amino acids.
It should be noted that this dense protein source will definitely not be recommended for those who intend to lose weight. But it might work very well for those struggling to get enough calories per day.
Now that the scientists have the sequence, they hope to get the yeast to produce the crystals in much larger quantities, this way being more efficient and less disgusting than “milking cockroaches” or in other words, extracting the crystals from their intestines.
Who needs other supplements when cockroach milk contains so many nutrients?
Well, that’s something that still can’t convince us. But if this superfood helps alleviate the food shortages that this generation will have to deal with, there will be no choice but to take it.
Source: The Times of India