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marketrent OP t1_jde7mk1 wrote

Excerpt from the linked summary^1 of a paper:^2

>"We have shed new light on the molecular mechanisms that allow beetles to absorb water rectally. Insects are particularly sensitive to changes in their water balance.

>"As such, this knowledge can be used to develop more targeted methods to combat beetle species which destroy our food production, without killing other animals or harming humans and nature," says Associate Professor Kenneth Veland Halberg of the Department of Biology, who led the research.

>The researchers studied the internal organs of red flour beetles to learn more about their ability to absorb water through the rectum.

>Red flour beetles are used as so-called model organisms, which means that they are offer tools that make them easy to work with and that their biology is similar to that found in other beetles.


>Here, the researchers identified a gene that is expressed sixty times more in the beetle's rectum compared to the rest of the animal, which is higher than any other gene they found.

>This led them to a unique group of cells known as leptophragmata cells. Upon closer inspection, they could see that these cells play a crucial role when the beetle absorbs water through its rear end.

>"Leptophragmata cells are tiny cells situated like windows between the beetle's kidneys and the insect circulatory system, or blood.

>"As the beetle's kidneys encircle its hindgut, the leptophragmata cells function by pumping salts into the kidneys so that they are able to harvest water from moist air through their rectums and from here into their bodies.

>"The gene we have discovered is essential to this process, which is new knowledge for us," explains Halberg.

^1 University of Copenhagen, 22 Mar. 2023.

^2 Muhammad T. Naseem et al. (2023) NHA1 is a cation/proton antiporter essential for the water-conserving functions of the rectal complex in Tribolium castaneum. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 120 (13) e2217084120.