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Conus can modify their venom according to the stimulus

par corneille - publié le

A team of scientists led by Dr. Sébastien Dutertre from IBMM (CNRS) and Professor Richard Lewis from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB, Brisbane, Australia) found that venomous mollusc of the genus Conus, have the remarkable ability to change their « weapons » as they hunt or defend themselves, a discovery that brings novel ideas on the evolution of venomous animals and could also lead to new treatments against chronic pain.

« Most venomous animals are thought to inject the same combination of toxins for both predation and defence, said Dr. Dutertre. However, we found that these animals inject their deadly venom only when under the threat of a predator. When the target is a prey, they switch weapons by injecting less complex venom, which is not toxic to humans. »

The study was published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature Communications.
Evolution of separate predation- and defence-evoked venoms in carnivorous cone snails. Sébastien Dutertre, Ai-Hua Jin, Irina Vetter, Brett Hamilton, Kartik Sunagar, Vincent Lavergne, Valentin Dutertre, Bryan G. Fry, Agostinho Antunes, Deon J. Venter, Paul F. Alewood & Richard J. Lewis. NATURE COMMUNICATIONS DOI : 10.1038/ncomms4521