Researchers from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience recently showed a highly venomous caterpillar, specifically, the one native to South East Queensland exhibits potential for use in medicines, as well as pest control.
According to SciTechDaily, the Doratifera vulnerans is common to large parts of the southeast of Queensland and is usually found in Toohey Forest Park on the south side of Brisbane. Dr. Andrew Walker has been studying this striking-looking caterpillar since 2017.
As a result, Dr. Walker said they found one while they were collecting assassin bugs close to Toowoomba, and its unusual biology and pain-causing venom fascinated him.
As specified in this report, different from "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" that charmed delighted generations of children all over the world, this particular caterpillar is described as "far from harmless."
Potential for Medicine Use and Pest Control
The caterpillar's binomial name, Dr. Walker explained, means it is a bearer of gifts of wounds. He added the caterpillar venom is similar to spiders.
The research of Dr. Walker showed the caterpillar has venom toxins which have a molecular structure akin to those ants, bees, spiders, and wasps produce.
The study unlocked as well, a source of bioactive peptides that may have used in biotechnology, medicine, or as scientific mechanisms.
Many caterpillars yield pain-inducing venoms and have progressed biological defenses like "irritative" hairs, toxins, rendering them poisonous to eat, spots that emulate snake eyes, or spines injecting liquid venoms, as described in the study, "Production, composition, and mode of action of the painful defensive venom produced by a limacodid caterpillar, Doratifera vulnerans", published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Previously, researchers did not have any idea what was in the caterpillar's venom, or how they are inducing pain, said Dr. Walker.
The Highly Venomous Caterpillar
According to the study author, they found that the caterpillar's venom is generally peptide. It also exhibits a stunning complication, comprising more than 150 different protein-based poisons from 59 different families.
The researchers synthesized 13 of the peptide toxins and used them to exhibit the distinctive evolutionary trajectory the highly venomous caterpillar in the study followed to produce pain-inducing venom.
Describing their finding, Dr. Walker said that they now know the sequences of amino acid, "or the blueprints of each protein-based toxin." This, he added, will allow them to develop the toxins and test them in different ways.
The Ability to Kill Bacteria
Some peptides already developed in the laboratory as part of the study of Dr. Walker exhibited very high effectiveness, with the potential to effectively kill nematode parasites that are hazardous to livestock and disease-causing pathogens, a similar ABC News report specified.
He explained they study unblocks a new source of bioactive peptides that may have benefit in medicine use, through an ability to impact biological processes and promote good health.
First, elaborated Dr. Walker, they need to work out what the distinct toxins are doing, to inform them about how they might be used.
The results incorporate work from the study authors at the CSIRO, Austria's University of Vienna, Canada's York University, and the Department of Food and Agriculture in the United States.
Related information is shown on the Institute for Molecular Bioscience's YouTube video below:
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