Scientists are one step closer to understanding the remarkable resilience of the American cockroach after successfully mapping its genome.
The cockroach (Periplaneta americana) is a familiar household pest in the US, known for its remarkable survival abilities, which include the capability to eat pretty much anything and even regrow severed limbs.
Despite its common name, the American cockroach is not actually native to the continent, but arrived on board ships from Africa in the early sixteenth century.
Since it landed, however, it has spread almost across the whole world, although in some countries it is not regarded as a wholly negative presence. In China, for instance, it is known as Xiao Qiang, which translates roughly as “small pest with strong living vitality”, a reference to its limb regeneration.
The roach plays a role in traditional Chinese medicine. Ethanol extracted from the insect has also been developed in to a prescription drug, Kang Fu Xin Ye, used for wound healing and tissue repair.