STORY HIGHLIGHTS


Study on venomous creatures

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Added On March 8, 2018

For a long time, scientists believed that an animal's venom is consistent over time: once a venomous creature, always a venomous creature.
 
However, a new study found out sea anemones adapt their venom to accommodate changing prey and sea conditions. 
 
Lifestyle has more.
 
Yehu Moran is a doctor of the Israeli Hebrew University's Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Science.
 
Moran and his team studied the Nematostella, a relative of the jellyfish, from cradle to grave.
 
The Nematostella begin their life as tiny larvae and grow into animals measuring several inches long. 
 
Moran said they found that sea anemones produce uniquely potent venom that causes predators to immediately spit them out if swallowed in the larvae stage.
 
Later on, when the sea anemones grow big and become predators themselves, their venom adapts to their new lifestyle by producing a different kind of toxin, one best suited to catch small fish and shrimp. 
 
Moran and his team labeled the sea anemone's venom-producing cells and monitored them over time to track these changes.
 
Their findings are significant for several reasons.  
 
First, venom is often used in medicines and pharmacological compounds.
 
Until now, researchers have only studied venom from adult sea anemones, missing out on the unique compounds that exist in larvae venom. 
 
These "new" compounds could lead to new medicines and drugs.  
 
Second, sea anemones, jellyfish and coral play a significant role in marine environments. 
 
A better understanding of their venomous output and effect on marine life ecology is crucial.