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Editorial

Caterpillar to Butterfly

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By EMN Updated: Feb 04, 2014 5:21 pm
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[dropcap]S[/dropcap]cientists have for the first time sequenced the internal bacterial make-up of the three major life stages of a butterfly species, a project which found that surprising events occur during metamorphosis.
Powerful DNA sequencing methods to characterize bacterial communities inhabiting caterpillars, pupae and adults of a species of tropical butterfly. When the internal bacteria was halved after it morphed from the caterpillar to the chrysalis, or pupal stage, then doubled after the pupae turned into active adult butterflies.This result is considered important because communities of bacteria inhabiting other insects have been shown to affect host nutrition, digestion, detoxification and defense from predators, parasites and pathogens. It means that the microbiological community simplified and reorganized itself during the transition from caterpillar to pupa. Then, to the surprise of the scientists, the diversity doubled after the adult butterflies had emerged and began going about their business of feeding.
Caterpillars are mostly herbivorous in food habit, although some species are insectivorous. Caterpillars are voracious feeders and many of them are considered to be pests in agriculture. Many moth species are better known in their caterpillar stages because of the damage they cause to fruits and other agricultural products.
Some caterpillars obtain protection by associating themselves with ants. They communicate with their ant protectors by vibrations as well as chemical means and typically provide food rewards. Some caterpillars are gregarious; large aggregations are believed to help in reducing the levels of parasitization and predation.
The caterpillar suffers predation from a number of species. The European pied flycatcher is one species that preys upon caterpillars. The flycatcher typically finds caterpillars amongst oak foliage. Paper wasps, also catch caterpillars to feed their young and themselves.
Caterpillars have been called “eating machines”, and eat leaves voraciously. Most species shed their skin four or five times as their bodies grow, and they eventually pupate into an adult form.
The US company, Caterpillar Inc. label “Caterpillar” is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives. The company also is a leading services provider through Caterpillar Financial Services, Caterpillar Remanufacturing Services and Progress Rail Services. It also diverts into other consumer item like the Caterpillar hard-soled shoes popular among American truck drivers and a fetish with the more well to do Nagas.
For more than 85 years, Caterpillar Inc. has been making sustainable progress possible and driving positive change on every continent. With 2012 sales and revenues of $65.875 billion,
Butterflies are ecologically and socially important, and their transformation from caterpillar to chrysalis to winged adult is said to be one of the most remarkable phenomena in the natural world. But nothing had earlier been known about what kind of internal microbes they have and how they change over the butterfly life cycle.
Today to the delight of Lepidopterists, in Nagaland there are 35 officially recognized species of colourful butterflies—literally the number of all major Naga tribes in all contiguous Naga-inhabited areas.
We are at what is popularly described as the watershed of our history. But in a more poetic sense we are still at the caterpillar stage. But the next stage also beckons. The Chinese have a saying: “What the caterpillar calls the end, the butterfly calls it life.”

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By EMN Updated: Feb 04, 2014 5:21:19 pm