• Tue. Jun 22nd, 2021

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Toxic beetle’s genetics reveals how evolution makes new organs

New Scientist Default Image

An adult predatory greenhouse rove beetle feeding on fly larva

Nigel Cattlin/Alamy

A beetle’s poisonous punch is helping to uncover how new types of cells can arise and co-evolve to create organs – and these mechanisms may apply to more complex organs in animals, including humans.

A fundamental challenge that multicellular animals face is how to get different cell types to work together so that a higher-level function, such as that of an organ, emerges from their interactions, says Joe Parker at the California Institute of Technology. Yet biologists know relatively little about how this happens.

Many organs that are …