All octopuses are venomousApril 16th, 2009 - 4:47 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, April 16 (ANI): Contrary to the belief that only blue-ringed octopuses are venomous, scientists have now found that all octopuses are poisonous.
Scientists from the University of Melbourne, University of Brussels, and Museum Victoria say that all octopuses and cuttlefish, and some squid are venomous.
The researchers say that their study suggests that they all share a common, ancient venomous ancestor and highlights new avenues for drug discovery.
Dr Bryan Fry from the Department of Biochemistry at the Bio21 Institute, University of Melbourne, revealed that while the blue-ringed octopus species remain the only group that aredangerous to humans, the other species have been quietly using their venom for predation, such as paralysing a clam into opening its shell.
“Venoms are toxic proteins with specialised functions such as paralysing the nervous system” he said.
“We hope that by understanding the structure and mode of action of venom proteins we can benefit drug design for a range of conditions such as pain management, allergies and cancer,” he added.
Scientists have examined many creatures for years as a basis for drug development. However, octopuses, cuttlefish and squid remain an untapped resource.
Fry now says that their venom may represent a unique class of compounds.
For the study, his team obtained tissue samples from cephalopods ranging from Hong Kong, the Coral Sea, the Great Barrier Reef and Antarctica.
Analysing the genes for venom production from the different species, the researchers found that a venomous ancestor produced one set of venom proteins, but over time additional proteins were added to the chemical arsenal.
They say that the origin of such genes also sheds light on the fundamentals of evolution, presenting a prime example of convergent evolution where species independently develop similar traits.
Fry has revealed that the research team will next try to determine why very different types of venomous animals seem to consistently settle on the similar venom protein composition, and which physical or chemical properties make them predisposed to be useful as toxin.
“Not only will this allow us to understand how these animals have assembled their arsenals, but it will also allow us to better exploit them in the development of new drugs from venoms,” said Fry.
“It does not seem a coincidence that some of the same protein types have been recruited for use as toxins across the animal kingdom,” the researcher added.
The study has been published in the Journal of Molecular Evolution. (ANI)
- Octopus venom can treat allergies, cancer - Apr 16, 2009
- Researchers tap into Antarctic octopus venom - Jul 27, 2010
- Jurassic era squid ink composition still unchanged - May 22, 2012
- 500m-year-old squid-like carnivore no more a mystery - May 27, 2010
- Lizard venom may provide drugs to fight hypertension - Dec 07, 2010
- 'Venom from snakes could save lives too' - Sep 20, 2012
- Worker ants can kill termites - Dec 15, 2011
- Squid can 'drop arms' as defensive tactic - Aug 03, 2012
- Scientists discover first protein-based amphibian toxin in Chinese tree frog - Aug 18, 2009
- Cambridge scientists synthesize mother of pearl - Jul 25, 2012
- Scientists discover unique sea snake - Feb 22, 2012
- Scorpion venom-injected pesticide could protect plants from bugs! - Apr 28, 2011
- Brazil spider's venom could help in man's sexual life - Aug 30, 2012
- Similar gene controls plant, human clocks - Dec 02, 2010
- Spider venom 'could be the new Viagra' - Mar 08, 2011
Tags: blue ringed octopus, cephalopods, chemical arsenal, coral sea, cuttlefish, department of biochemistry, dr bryan, drug discovery, example of convergent evolution, great barrier reef, melbourne university, museum victoria, new avenues, octopuses, tissue samples, toxic proteins, university of melbourne, untapped resource, venomous animals, venoms