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Evolution of venomous centipedes: First widespread look by researchers

Date:
May 20, 2014
Source:
Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press)
Summary:
Venomous creatures usually conjure up images of hissing snakes or stinging scorpions. But for a team of scientists, an overlooked group -- centipedes -- are all the rage. Centipedes prey on bugs and other pests by stinging them with venom secreted from and injected from their first pair of pincer-like legs, called forcipules.

Venomous creatures usually conjure up images of hissing snakes or stinging scorpions--but for scientists Bryan Fry, et. al., an overlooked group --centipedes-- are all the rage.

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Centipedes prey on bugs and other pests by stinging them with venom secreted from and injected from their first pair of pincer-like legs, called forcipules. In a new paper published in the advanced online edition of Molecular Biology and Evolution, the research team analyzed all venom protein and peptide sequences available for centipedes,

Next, they build these sequences into genetic trees to catalog, categorize and reconstruct their evolutionary histories.

Overall, they identified a high-diversity of 60 unique venom protein and peptide families from just five species investigated. Eleven of these families represented new proteins families, showing novel ways for centipede venom. Others proteins were convergent, or evolved independently, along with toxins used by spiders and scorpions. The results showed a vast functional diversity of centipede toxins that can significantly aid in the understanding of toxin evolution. They are also a treasure trove with a high potential for use in drug design and development.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. E. A. B. Undheim, A. Jones, K. R. Clauser, J. W. Holland, S. S. Pineda, G. F. King, B. G. Fry. Clawing through evolution: toxin diversification and convergence in the ancient lineage Chilopoda (Centipedes). Molecular Biology and Evolution, 2014; DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msu162

Cite This Page:

Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press). "Evolution of venomous centipedes: First widespread look by researchers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140520184751.htm>.
Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press). (2014, May 20). Evolution of venomous centipedes: First widespread look by researchers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140520184751.htm
Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press). "Evolution of venomous centipedes: First widespread look by researchers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140520184751.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

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