One of the fascinating facts about cockroach is that it has around 320 million years of evolution history and delighting feature is in its strategy of reproduction. Because the exclusive cockroach (Diploptera punctata) being an insect gives birth to young ones without hatching eggs and nourishes the young ones during gestation with a yellow colored protein rich liquid known as lili-mip which is secreted in the brood sac. This liquid milk is ingested by the young ones and gets reframed into the protein crystals within the embryo gut and is considered as an exclusively known viviparous cockroach that gives birth to living one.
These crystals are regarded as the complete nutrient source and surprisingly research showed that one such protein crystal comprises 3 folds more energy and calories than that of the conventional milks. These crystals release proteins in timely manner like when certain amount protein gets consumed subsequently exact amount of protein is released from the crystals, this property is because of the expression levels of milk genes. Geographically it is a native Hawaii and distributed around India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and also in some western countries, its composition slightly varies because of the environmental factors.
This peculiar liquid called as Lili-mip is a dense liquid comprised of about 45% of glycoproteins belonging to lipocalin milk protein family and 25% carbohydrates with 10% lipids and interestingly they provides all essential amino acids that cannot be synthesized within the body but required for the growth and development, suggesting this liquid to be a next generation health drink for malnutrition individuals.
Its protein estimation confirmed the presence of milk proteins in brood sac which are encoded by more than twenty-five distinct complementary DNAs. These cDNAs encodes to around 22 different peptides, where each one of this peptide had a length of 171 amino acids long and assumed that the proteins also takes part in cholesterol transport. Also believed that it possess pharmaceutical evolutionary nutrients like juvenile hormone that cannot be found in other mammals.
This milk is consumed in China and America and due to its pharmacological properties lili-mip milk can be used in curing various ailments like cardiac diseases, kidney disorders and gastrointestinal infections. Studies show that the composition is completely different from conventional dairy milk and looks promising for large-scale production. It is also environmental friendly than the conventional dairy milks which expels lot of greenhouse gases while boiling. Researchers are showing interest over this issue to explore the 2D and 3D conformation of the milk proteins and molecular mechanism behind its production. Sequencing the genes responsible for this peculiar liquid secretion and toxicity study may lead this cockroach milk to commercialize as nutrient energy drink.
Madhusudan M R