Navigation Links
Nonvenomous Asian snakes 'borrow' defensive poison from toxic toads

Most snakes are born with poisonous bites they use for defense. But what can non-poisonous snakes do to ward off predators?

What if they could borrow a dose of poison by eating toxic toads, then recycling the toxins?

That's exactly what happens in the relationship between an Asian snake and a species of toad, according to a team of researchers funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS).

Herpetologists Deborah Hutchinson, Alan Savitzky of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., and colleagues published results of research on the snake's dependence on certain toads in this week's online issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Hutchinson studied the Asian snake Rhabdophis tigrinus and its relationship to a species of toxic toad it eats. In the PNAS paper, she and co-authors describe dietary sequestration of toxins by the snakes. The process allows the snakes to store toxins from the toads in their neck glands. When under attack, the snakes re-release the poisons from these neck glands.

Many invertebrates sequester dietary toxins for use in defense, including milkweed insects and sea slugs. But vertebrate examples of toxin sequestration, especially from vertebrate prey, are rare. "A snake that's dependent on a diet of toads for chemical defense is highly unusual," said Hutchinson.

Hutchinson said the research had identified six compounds in the snakes that may hold promise in medical treatments for people suffering from hypertension and related blood pressure disorders.

The researchers made their case by testing Rhabdophis tigrinus on several Japanese islands, one with a large population of the toxic toads and another with none, and compared them with snakes from the Japanese island of Honshu, where toads are few. The presence of toxins in the snakes' neck glands depended upon their access to the toads.

Snakes without the borrowed toxins were more likely to turn and flee from danger than to hold their ground and perform a toxin-releasing defensive maneuver.

"Sequestration of toxins in a specialized [neck gland] structure in a vertebrate is a remarkable finding," said William Zamer, IOS deputy director at NSF. "This finding offers new insights into the complex mechanisms underlying ecological relationships and will lead to important insights about fundamental biological questions."


'"/>

Source:National Science Foundation


Related biology news :

1. Cousin of Asian super termite invades Florida
2. Asian immigrants in NYC not receiving HIV education at religious institutions
3. Genetic analysis of Asian elephants in India reveals some surprises
4. Hepatitis B accounts for 40 percent of missing Asian women
5. Green tea and the Asian Paradox
6. Scientists to track impact of Asian dust and pollution on clouds, weather, climate change
7. Researchers reveal secrets of flying snakes
8. The very defensive caterpillar
9. Mutation in clams protects against paralytic shellfish poisoning but raises human health risk
10. Fluoride poisoning in China due to clay, not coal
11. CU, USDA team to curb two invasive, poisonous vines
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:3/23/2016)... , March 23, 2016 ... Interesse erhöhter Sicherheit Gesichts- und Stimmerkennung mit ... Inc. (NASDAQ: MESG ), ein ... dass das Unternehmen mit SpeechPro zusammenarbeitet, um ... der Finanzdienstleistungsbranche, wird die Möglichkeit angeboten, im ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... PROVO and SANDY, Utah ... (NSO), which operates the highest sample volume laboratory in ... Tute Genomics and UNIConnect, leaders in clinical sequencing informatics ... the launch of a project to establish the informatics ... NSO has been contracted by the ...
(Date:3/18/2016)... , March 18, 2016 --> ... of Biometrics, ICT, Manned & Unmanned Vehicles, Physical infrastructure and ... security companies in the border security market and the continuing ... and Europe has led visiongain to ... improved success. --> defence & security companies ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Charm ... Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. , “This is ... last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and Industrial Affairs. “The ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- The Biodesign Challenge (BDC), a university competition that asks ... systems and biotechnology, announced its winning teams at the ... York City . The teams, chosen ... MoMA,s Celeste Bartos Theater during the daylong summit. Keynote ... of architecture and design, and Suzanne Lee , ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Supplyframe, the Industry ... Supplyframe Design Lab . Located in Pasadena, Calif., the Design Lab’s mission ... hardware projects are designed, built and brought to market. , The Design Lab ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... , ... In a new case report published today in STEM CELLS Translational ... lymphedema after being treated for breast cancer benefitted from an injection of stem cells ... this debilitating, frequent side effect of cancer treatment. , Lymphedema refers to ...
Breaking Biology Technology: