butterflies

Monarch butterflies use medicinal plants to treat diseases in their offspring

Thursday, October 21, 2010 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Tags: butterflies, medicinal plants, health news

eTrust Pro Certified

Most Viewed Articles
Popular on Facebook
BACK INTO THE CLOSET: Why U.S. reporters are not allowed to write about rainbow events in nations where being gay is still condemned
Depopulation test run? 75% of children who received vaccines in Mexican town now dead or hospitalized
INVESTIGATION: Three days before Dr. Bradstreet was found dead in a river, U.S. govt. agents raided his research facility to seize a breakthrough cancer treatment called GcMAF
A family destroyed: Six-month-old dies after clinic injects baby with 13 vaccines at once without mother's informed consent
Biologist explains how marijuana causes tumor cells to commit suicide
BOMBSHELL: China and America already at war: Tianjin explosion carried out by Pentagon space weapon in retaliation for Yuan currency devaluation... Military helicopters now patrolling Beijing
Companies begin planting microchips under employees' skin
BAM! Chipotle goes 100% non-GMO; flatly rejecting the biotech industry and its toxic food ingredients
ECONOMIC SLAVERY FOR ALL: While we were distracted with the Confederate flag flap, Congress quietly forfeited our entire economic future via fast-track trade authority
McDonald's in global profit free fall as people everywhere increasingly reject chemically-altered toxic fast food
March Against Monsanto explodes globally... World citizens stage massive protests across 38 countries, 428 cities... mainstream media pretends it never happened
SCOTUS same-sex marriage decision may have just legalized the concealed carry of loaded firearms across all 50 states, nullifying gun laws everywhere
Vicious attack on Dr. Oz actually waged by biotech mafia; plot to destroy Oz launched after episode on glyphosate toxicity went viral
Nearly every mass shooting in the last 20 years shares one surprising thing? and it's not guns
Holistic cancer treatment pioneer Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez dies suddenly; patients mourn the loss of a compassionate, innovative doctor who helped thousands heal from cancer
Inuit Elders tell NASA Earth Axis Shifted
Wild eyes and bowl cuts: Why do mass shooters always share the same hair styles and crazed zombie stares?
Genetically white woman now claims self-identify as black: If you can choose your gender, can you also choose your race? What about your species? Can a human claim to be a llama?
Delicious
(NaturalNews) What happens when animals get sick in the wild -- do they just fight off disease by themselves? It seems they may actively treat themselves, and their sick offspring, with natural therapies. If that sounds like a far-fetched idea, listen up. Although few studies have been conducted on self-medication by animals, researchers from Emory University in Atlanta theorize the practice may be far more widespread than humans have realized. In fact, they've just discovered that monarch butterflies use medicinal plants to treat their offspring for disease.

"We have shown that some species of milkweed, the larva's food plants, can reduce parasite infection in the monarchs," Jaap de Roode, the evolutionary biologist who led the study just published in the journal Ecology Letters, said in a statement to the media. "And we have also found that infected female butterflies prefer to lay their eggs on plants that will make their offspring less sick, suggesting that monarchs have evolved the ability to medicate their offspring. We believe that our experiments provide the best evidence to date that animals use medication."

Monarch butterflies, known for their beautiful wings which are streaked with orange, black and white designs, migrate from the United States to Mexico each year. Their striking coloration is a warning sign to birds and other predators that the butterflies are poisonous. That's because, as caterpillars, monarchs feed on milkweed plants which can contain high levels of phytochemicals called cardenolides. These chemicals don't hurt the caterpillars, but they make them toxic -- even when they transform into butterflies -- if eaten by other animals.

Earlier research concentrated on whether the butterflies fed off toxic species of milkweed to ward off predators. De Roode, however, questioned whether the choice could be related to parasites called Ophryocystis elektroscirrha that can invade the gut of caterpillars and persist when they turn into monarch butterflies. An infected female passes on the parasites to her offspring when she lays eggs and, if the monarch leaves the pupal stage with a severe parasitic infection, the butterfly begins oozing fluids from its body and dies. If infected butterflies manage to survive, they don't fly as well or live as long as their uninfected counterparts.

So, in experiments conducted in de Roode's lab, the Emory researchers found female butterflies infected with the parasites prefer to lay their eggs on a toxic species of milkweed, rather than a non-toxic species. On the other hand, uninfected female monarchs, showed no preference. That indicates the infected butterflies somehow knew to specifically protect their offspring by "treating" them with the toxic-to-parasites milkweed.

University of Michigan chemical ecologist Mark Hunter, who collaborated with de Roode's group on the butterfly research, said the monarch findings could have important implications for human health. "When I walk around outside, I think of the plants I see as a great, green pharmacy," Hunter said in a media statement. "But what also strikes me is how little we actually know about what that pharmacy has to offer. Studying organisms engaged in self-medication gives us a clue as to what compounds might be worth investigating for their potential as human medicines."

For more information:
http://esciencecommons.blogspot.com/2010/10/...

Follow real-time breaking news headlines on
Butterflies at FETCH.news
Join over four million monthly readers. Your privacy is protected. Unsubscribe at any time.
comments powered by Disqus
Take Action: Support NaturalNews.com by linking back to this article from your website

Permalink to this article:

Embed article link: (copy HTML code below):

Reprinting this article:
Non-commercial use OK, cite NaturalNews.com with clickable link.

Follow Natural News on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest

Colloidal Silver

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Support NaturalNews Sponsors:

Advertise with NaturalNews...

GET SHOW DETAILS
+ a FREE GIFT

Sign up for the FREE Natural News Email Newsletter

Receive breaking news on GMOs, vaccines, fluoride, radiation protection, natural cures, food safety alerts and interviews with the world's top experts on natural health and more.

Join over 7 million monthly readers of NaturalNews.com, the internet's No. 1 natural health news site. (Source: Alexa.com)

Your email address *

Please enter the code you see above*

No Thanks

Already have it and love it!

Natural News supports and helps fund these organizations:

* Required. Once you click submit, we will send you an email asking you to confirm your free registration. Your privacy is assured and your information is kept confidential. You may unsubscribe at anytime.