Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gene find turns soldier beetle defense into biotech opportunity

Date:
November 8, 2012
Source:
CSIRO Australia
Summary:
New antibiotic and anti-cancer chemicals may one day be synthesized using biotechnology, following a discovery of the three genes that combine to provide soldier beetles with their potent predator defense system.

The Soldier beetle is the first animal found to produce the exotic fatty acid dihydromatriciaria.
Credit: CSIRO

New antibiotic and anti-cancer chemicals may one day be synthesised using biotechnology, following CSIRO's discovery of the three genes that combine to provide soldier beetles with their potent predator defence system.

Related Articles


CSIRO researchers, and a colleague at Sweden's Karolinska Institute, published details of the gene identification breakthrough and potential applications recently in the international journal Nature Communications.

"For the first time, our team has been able to isolate and replicate the three genes that combine to make the potent fatty acid that soldier beetles secrete to ward off predators and infection," said CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences research leader Dr Victoria Haritos.

"This discovery is important because it opens a new way for the unusual fatty acid to be synthesised for potential antibiotic, anti-cancer, or other industrial purposes," Dr Haritos said.

Soldier beetles exude a white viscous fluid from their glands to repel potential attacks from predators, as well as in a wax form to protect against infection.

The team found this fluid contains an exotic fatty acid called dihydromatricaria acid, or DHMA, which is one of a group called polyynes that have known anti-microbial and anti-cancer properties.

While DHMA and similar polyyne fatty acids are found in a wide variety of plants, fungi, liverworts, mosses, marine sponges and algae, these compounds have proved very difficult to manufacture using conventional chemical processes. However, Dr Haritos and her team have developed a way to achieve this.

"We have outlined a method for reproducing these polyyne chemicals in living organisms like yeast, using mild conditions" Dr Haritos said.

Soldier beetles are the only animals reported to contain DHMA. This, together with the observation that the beetles forage on plants (such as daisies) which contain a lot of these types of fatty acids, led to previous incorrect conclusions that the DHMA in soldier beetles was derived from their diet.

"Through our research and the gene differences we have discovered, we now know soldier beetles have evolved this same defensive compound entirely independently of its production in plants and fungi," Dr Haritos said.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Victoria S. Haritos, Irene Horne, Katherine Damcevski, Karen Glover, Nerida Gibb, Shoko Okada, Mats Hamberg. The convergent evolution of defensive polyacetylenic fatty acid biosynthesis genes in soldier beetles. Nature Communications, 2012; 3: 1150 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2147

Cite This Page:

CSIRO Australia. "Gene find turns soldier beetle defense into biotech opportunity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121108104415.htm>.
CSIRO Australia. (2012, November 8). Gene find turns soldier beetle defense into biotech opportunity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121108104415.htm
CSIRO Australia. "Gene find turns soldier beetle defense into biotech opportunity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121108104415.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) A Swedish amputee who became the first person to ever receive a brain controlled prosthetic arm is able to manipulate and handle delicate objects with an unprecedented level of dexterity. The device is connected directly to his bone, nerves and muscles, giving him the ability to control it with his thoughts. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google To Use Nanoparticles, Wearables To Detect Disease

Google To Use Nanoparticles, Wearables To Detect Disease

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) Google X wants to improve modern medicine with nanoparticles and a wearable device. It's all an attempt to tackle disease detection and prevention. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Drinking Milk Lead To Early Death?

Can Drinking Milk Lead To Early Death?

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) Researchers in Sweden released a study showing heavy milk drinkers face an increased mortality risk from a variety of causes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Surrounded by health care workers in the White House East Room, President Barack Obama said the U.S. will likely see additional Ebola cases in the weeks ahead. But he said the nation can't seal itself off in the fight against the disease. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
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


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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