Scorpion venom-injected pesticide could protect plants from bugs!

April 28th, 2011 - 6:53 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Apr 28 (ANI): Scientists have uncovered new ways to use scorpion venom to protect plants from bugs.

Past research identified scorpion toxin’s usefulness in the development of insecticides. Its venom attacks various channels and receptors that control their prey’s nervous and muscular systems.

One major target of scorpion toxins is the voltage-gated sodium channel, a protein found in nerve and muscle cells used for rapid electrical signaling.

“The goal of our scorpion toxin project is to understand why certain scorpion toxins act on insect sodium channels, but not their mammalian counterparts,” said Ke Dong from Michigan State University.

Dong and a team of researchers were able to identify amino acid residues in insect sodium channels that make the channels more vulnerable to the venom from the Israeli desert scorpion.

The team also discovered that an important sodium channel voltage sensor can influence the potency of the scorpion toxin.

“Investigating the venom’s effect on the voltage-gated sodium channel could provide valuable information for designing new insecticides that work by selectively targeting insect sodium channels,” Dong said.

The study has been published in the current issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. (ANI)

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