News & AnalysisEuropean Society for Evolutionary Biology Meeting

Mothering Beetles Suppress Microbes to Protect Food for Their Young

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Science  16 Sep 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6049, pp. 1562
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6049.1562-a

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Summary

Burying beetles raise their young in animal corpses, such as dead mice. The larvae feed off the flesh, so keeping this food microbe-free is crucial. Burying beetle parents preserve their offspring's food store by coating these "nurseries" with antibiotic secretions, researchers reported at the meeting. This behavior doubles the chances that the larvae will survive and reproduce.