The Cockroach Nitrogen Team

American Cockroach

American Cockroach

The American cockroach, Periplaneta americana, feeds on a low protein diet and stores uric acid in special cells of the fat body. These cells contain a symbiotic microorganisms: Blattabacterium. The cockroach uses Blattabacterium symbionts to help regulate its balance of nitrogen with other diet components. Blattabacterium convert amino acid nitrogen into uric acid and uric acid into amino acids depending on the needs of its cockroach host. If fed on a diet enriched with protein, the cockroach will excrete some of the excess nitrogen as ammonia. About 90% of the nitrogenous waste from American cockroaches is in the form of ammonia. Scientists don’t know how the ammonia arrives in the hindgut. It may be filtered from the blood and flow into the hindgut through the Malpighian tubules or bacteria and other microorganisms present in the hind gut may produce the ammonia within the hindgut. We do know that some of the bacteria in the cockroach hindgut have the ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. These bacteria fix more nitrogen when dietary protein is low. The nitrogen fixing bacteria of the hindgut work in concert with the Blattabacterium to regulate nitrogen balance.

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 The Cockroach Nitrogen Team

  1. Pingback: The Cockroach Nitrogen Team – Entomo Planet

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