Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Aged roaches experience perils of stiff joints, find Case researchers


Humans are not alone in suffering the ravages of aging. Cockroaches endure it, too.

Case Western Reserve University researchers reported in the Journal of Experimental Biology that as the roach’s life wanes between 60-65 weeks after the onset of adulthood, and the cockroach slows down, experiences stiff joints and has problems climbing and a decreased spontaneous fleeing response. Death comes shortly after the onset of these movement problems.

Angela Ridgel, a post doctoral fellow at Case, was the lead author on the National Institute of Health-funded study, "Effects of aging on behavior and leg kinematics during locomotion in two species of cockroaches." Her research looked at walking, climbing and righting behavior in the roach species, Blaberus discoidalis. She wrote the paper with Roy Ritzmann, professor of biology, and Paul Schaefer, a former Case graduate student who studied escape behavior in Periplaneta americana and contributed information about the roach’s central nervous system and escape behavior.

Research for the paper came from Ritzmann’s cockroach laboratory that studies insect movement to help engineer a new generation of robots that can not only move but sense information as they travel rugged terrains or locations unsafe for humans.

Roaches reach adulthood after several molts. After 60 weeks into adulthood, Ridgel observed in lab studies that roach movement was much different from their younger adult counterparts.

Aging is complicated for the six-legged roach. Ridgel found that old roaches develop a "tarsus catch" where the joint between its paw section and leg joint in the front (prothoracic) leg hardens causing the leg to list to almost 45 degrees. As the roach moves forward, the front leg catches on the middle (mesothoracic) leg, which causes the roach to trip and to struggle to regain its tripod-like stance and gait.

Ridgel noted that this catch increased from 35 percent of the 60-week-old adults to 95 percent for 65-week-old adult roaches.

Changes in the sticky pads that help roaches climb walls or on inclined surfaces also underwent a change from a supple, grey pad to hardened brown ones that eventually broke off. Removing a layer of cuticle in the roach paws, she also noted that tracheal tubes and a tendon that help create movement also hardened and browned, causing the paw to bend at the odd angle.

"Insects provide a useful model for aging studies because they’re short-lived compared with mammals," reports Ridgel.

Schaefer contributed to the paper with his look at the roach’s escape behavior and how it changes during the aging process. He also reported in the paper that roaches had lacked the spontaneous response to flee from a predator in lab studies, but this escape behavior returned after the roach’s head was removed, suggesting a deficiency in the brain.

She noted that the importance of this study is that it stresses the importance of multi-level approaches to the study of age-related changes in behavior and the nervous system.

"If we looked at only one study, we would have a skewed view of movement in these adult roaches. You need to test animals in a whole bunch of locomotor situations to get an idea of the potential changes that occur," added Ridgel.

About Case Western Reserve University

Founded in 1826 and shaped by the unique merger of an institute of technology and a liberal arts college, Case is distinguished by its strengths in education, research, and service. Located in Cleveland and offering top programs in the Arts and Sciences, Dentistry, Engineering, Law, Management, Medicine, Nursing, and Social Sciences, Case is among the world’s leading research institutions.

Susan Griffith | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'
16.03.2018 | Emory Health Sciences

nachricht Scientists map the portal to the cell's nucleus
16.03.2018 | Rockefeller University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>