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Spider Venom Could Yield Eco-Friendly Insecticides

s can disrupt the insects?nervous systems or induce paralysis in just a few minutes. King and his colleagues are now developing both engineered viruses and small-molecule mimics of the toxins in preparation for field trials.

The Blue Mountains funnel-web spider is not the only source of insect-specific neurotoxins. Thousands of spider species yet to be studied represent an untapped reservoir of diverse insecticidal compounds that could do more than control agricultural pests. As researchers inventory more kinds of venom and uncover insecticide leads, they may be able to target insects that transmit new and emerging human diseases, such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever (ticks) and dengue and yellow fever (mosquitoes).

"One could envision specifically targeting mosquito larvae that carry human diseases such as West Nile or malaria, while leaving other insects and vertebrates unharmed," says King.


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Source:National Science Foundation


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