Tarantula venom could be key to new insecticide

tarantula photo
© MARTIN OESER/AFP/Getty Images

A protein found in Australian tarantula venom can kill insects that eat the venom. Researchers are looking into how this could lead to better insecticides for crops.

Science Daily reports, "The small protein, named orally active insecticidal peptide-1 (OAIP-1), was found to be highly toxic to insects that consumed it, with potency similar to that of the synthetic insecticide imidacloprid. Cotton bollworm, a pest that attacks crop plants, was more sensitive to OAIP-1 than termites and mealworms, which attack stored grains."

There are quite a few species of insects that are resistant to currently available insecticides but the protein found in tarantula venom could lead to bioinsecticides -- and perhaps other potential uses.

Glenn King of the Institute of Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland states, "The breakthrough discovery that spider toxins can have oral activity has implications not only for their use as bioinsecticides, but also for spider-venom peptides that are being considered for therapeutic use."

Tags: Animals

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