Beetle Food Sterilization

Red Flour Beetle

Red Flour Beetle

Flour beetles are pest of grains and can spend their entire life cycle in a bag of meal. The beetles feed on dry meal and produce metabolic water. They excrete waste into the meal which over time creates a suitable environment for fungi, including those that are pathogens of insects.

The Red Flour Beetle limits fungal growth by also secreting toxic quinones into the meal. The quinones are produced by the epidermal cells of all insects to cross-link skeletal proteins during sclerotization. The red flour beetle produces excess quinones, some of which do not react with proteins but remain in the cuticle and some are release into the meal. The quinones will react with fungal pathogens and other organisms that invade the cuticle. The toxic quinones prevent successful colonization of these beetles.  They also protect their food from micro-organism competitors.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Biomaterials, by jjneal, Environment. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Beetle Food Sterilization

  1. Pingback: Beetle Food Sterilization | Living With Insects Blog

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