Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scorpion venom: Bad for bugs, good for pesticides

Date:
May 1, 2011
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Fables have long cast scorpions as bad-natured killers of hapless turtles that naively agree to ferry them across rivers. Scientists, however, see them in a different light. Insect toxicologists and neurobiologists have studied the effects of scorpion venom with the hopes of finding new ways to protect plants from bugs. The results have revealed new ways in which the venom works.

At night, entomologists use black lights to spot scorpions, which give off an eerie glow.
Credit: Photo by Greg Kohuth

Fables have long cast scorpions as bad-natured killers of hapless turtles that naively agree to ferry them across rivers. Michigan State University scientists, however, see them in a different light.

Related Articles


Ke Dong, MSU insect toxicologist and neurobiologist, studied the effects of scorpion venom with the hopes of finding new ways to protect plants from bugs. The results, which are published in the current issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, have revealed new ways in which the venom works.

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.

"Interestingly, some scorpion toxins selectively affect one type of sodium channels, but not others," Dong said. "The goal of our scorpion toxin project is to understand why certain scorpion toxins act on insect sodium channels, but not their mammalian counterparts."

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.

Several classes of insecticides act on sodium channels, but insects become resistant to them over time. The researchers are studying how insects develop resistance and what alternatives can be created to control resistant pests, Dong added.

Scientists from Tel Aviv University and the University of California at Irvine contributed to this study. Dong's research is funded in part by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund, and MSU AgBioResearch.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. W. Song, Y. Du, Z. Liu, N. Luo, M. Turkov, D. Gordon, M. Gurevitz, A. L. Goldin, K. Dong. Substitutions in the domain III voltage sensing module enhance the sensitivity of an insect sodium channel to a scorpion beta-toxin. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2011; DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M110.217000

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Scorpion venom: Bad for bugs, good for pesticides." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110427154308.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2011, May 1). Scorpion venom: Bad for bugs, good for pesticides. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110427154308.htm
Michigan State University. "Scorpion venom: Bad for bugs, good for pesticides." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110427154308.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How To: Mixed Green Salad Topped With Camembert Cheese

How To: Mixed Green Salad Topped With Camembert Cheese

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) Learn how to make a mixed green salad topped with a pan-seared camembert cheese in only a minute! Music: Courtesy of Audio Network. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) Scientists are preparing a group of water fleas for a unique voyage into space. The aquatic crustaceans, known as Daphnia, can be used as a miniature model for biomedical research, and their reproductive and swimming behaviour will be tested for signs of stress while on board the International Space Station. Jim Drury went to meet the team. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Husky Puppy Plays With Ferret

Husky Puppy Plays With Ferret

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) It looks like this 2-month-old Husky puppy and the family ferret are going to be the best of friends. Look at how much fun they&apos;re having together! Credit to &apos;Vira&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Model Flying, Walking Drone After Vampire Bats

Scientists Model Flying, Walking Drone After Vampire Bats

Buzz60 (Jan. 26, 2015) Swiss scientists build a new drone that can both fly and walk, modeling it after the movements of common vampire bats. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins