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New paper examines poison resistance in snakes around the world
Date:3/19/2012

e to develop a predictive framework to gauge when natural populations will be able to evolve rapidly enough to persist in a changing environment and when the environmental change is too fast or too strong, leading to local extinction."

An understanding of how organisms deal with environmental change is relevant to the major themes of Notre Dame's Environmental Change Initiative and to the Eck Institute for Global Health, which examines disease resistance coupled with human health.

"Many organisms are exposed to toxic chemicals in their environment and this system is a model for understanding how they cope with this challenge through evolutionary change," Pfrender said. "A good example of the application of this knowledge is when we are trying to understand how parasites acquire drug resistance. How do they do it and what are the limits to this response? Can we create more effective drug strategies that capitalize on these functional constraints making it more difficult for parasites to evolve resistance?"

Pfrender and the Utah State researchers plan to study more snake species and to expand their research to a number of other species, including insects that prey on the toxic eggs of salamanders. They also are examining other genes closely related to the sodium channel genes that are the focus of the PNAS study to expand their understanding of how adaptation occurs.


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Contact: Michael Pfrender
Michael.Pfrender.1@nd.edu
574-631-0591
University of Notre Dame
Source:Eurekalert

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