Diet specialization in an extreme omnivore: nutritional regulation in glucose-averse German cockroaches.

Journal of evolutionary biology

PubMedID: 25078384

Shik JZ, Schal C, Silverman J. Diet specialization in an extreme omnivore: nutritional regulation in glucose-averse German cockroaches. J Evol Biol. 2014;.
Organisms have diverse adaptations for balancing dietary nutrients, but often face trade-offs between ingesting nutrients and toxins in food. While extremely omnivorous cockroaches would seem excluded from such dietary trade-offs, German cockroaches (Blattella germanica) in multiple populations have rapidly evolved a unique dietary specialization - an aversion to glucose, the phagostimulant in toxic baits used for pest control. We used factorial feeding experiments within the geometric framework to test whether glucose-averse (GA) cockroaches with limited access to this critical metabolic fuel have compensatory behavioural and physiological strategies for meeting nutritional requirements. GA cockroaches had severely constrained intake, fat and N mass, and performance on glucose-based diets relative to wild-type (WT) cockroaches and did not appear to exhibit digestive strategies for retaining undereaten nutrients. However, a GA × WT 'hybrid' had lower glucose aversion than GA and greater access to macronutrients within glucose-based diets - while still having lower intake and survival than WT. Given these intermediate foraging constraints, hybrids may be a reservoir for this maladaptive trait in the absence of positive selection and may account for the rapid evolution of this trait following bait application.