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Hawkmoths use nectar sugar to reduce oxidative damage from flight

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Science  17 Feb 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6326, pp. 733-735
DOI: 10.1126/science.aah4634

Sugar rush

Flying requires high levels of energy production, which causes muscular oxidative damage. Food-derived antioxidants can protect against such damage; however, nectar is devoid of these compounds. Levin et al. found that nectar-feeding hawkmoths fed high concentrations of sugar had lower levels of damage than unfed moths. Sugar-fed moths generated antioxidant compounds by shunting glucose through a pentose phosphate pathway. This mechanism may have allowed for the evolution of energy-intensive flying nectarivores.

Science, this issue p. 733