September 26, 2010
Apple snail eggs (Pomacea canaliculata) are filled with an unusual neurotoxin that scares off every predator except for fire ants. What makes the toxin so weird? Not only do the baby snails eat it as they develop in the egg, the toxin is usually found only in plants & bacteria. As for the fire ants, no one knows they survive.
> ScienceShot: Invasive Snails Protect Their Young With Odd Poison
Many kinds of snails are invading ecosystems all over the world, but the apple snail (Pomacea canaliculata) has a unique advantage: Almost no predators will eat its eggs. That's because the bright pink objects (pictured) are filled with a neurotoxin that scares off every predator except for red fire ants. Now, researchers have discovered that the neurotoxin, called PcPV2, is unusual for animals. First, it's a so-called AB toxin, which is used by plants and bacteria. And second, the apple snail creates it in an unprecedented way, combining a pair of molecules that resemble those belonging to the immune system of other animals. As for the embryonic snails, cocooned in a toxic egg, they are equipped with enzymes that can degrade the neurotoxin and use it for nutrition during development, researchers reported last week in PLOS ONE. No one knows how the ants survive.
Credit: Horacio Heras
Reference: Research Article: Novel Animal Defenses against Predation: A Snail Egg Neurotoxin Combining Lectin and Pore-Forming Chains That Resembles Plant Defense and Bacteria Attack Toxins. Marcos Sebastián Dreon, María Victoria Frassa, Marcelo Ceolín, Santiago Ituarte, Jian-Wen Qiu, Jin Sun, Patricia E. Fernández, Horacio Heras. PLOS ONE
Thansk Bojan. Might be one reason this species is so invasive in certain countries?
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