Cecropia Moths are Resistant to Bacterial Infection


The Cecropia Moth, Hyalophora cecropia, is a member of the Saturniidae family that lives in American forests. Cecropia moths produce a substance called cecropin, which plays the same role as the antibiotics we use to treat colds: it kills the bacteria that attacks their body by destroying their cell membrane walls, preventing the bacteria from growing inside the moth’s body. Because the moths create the antibiotic cecropin by themselves, they do not have to worry about side effects of medicines like we do, and they are always ready to protect themselves since they produce the cecropin as needed. Moreover, the antibacterial effects of cecropin remain effective regardless of how many times it is used. Because it attacks the cell walls, the bacteria cannot develop resistance, as they can to traditional antibiotics. Further, cecropin also helps moths heal from injuries faster.

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Pest controlResistance to outside threatsMicrobe/germ resistance

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Proposals of Applied Technology

Cecropin can be used to develop new technology in the pharmaceutical industry to develop new types of antibiotics. The more frequently antibiotics are used, the more ineffective they become as bacteria develop resistance to them. This necessitates the continual development of new antibiotics. Cecropin is expected to help this situation if it can be used to develop antibiotics that are effective in humans. Cecropin would also be useful in developing antibiotics that are free from side effects by effectively destroy pathogenic bacteria when they enter our bodies. In the field of agriculture, disease-resistant crops can be developed by genetically engineering plants to synthesize cecropin. In fact, researchers have already begun to study the effectiveness of artificially synthesized cecropin against the pathogenic bacteria that affect rice and wheat crops. Cecropin can also be used as a safe fungicide in bathrooms, for example, replacing the current anti-mold cleansers that contain strong chemicals.

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