1 Tahrcountry Musings: Safe and Ecologically Sound Pesticide from Scorpion Venom

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Safe and Ecologically Sound Pesticide from Scorpion Venom

Here is yet another reason for conserving biodiversity. Scorpion venom is coming to the succor of agricultural industry.

Scorpions deliver a complex cocktail of poisonous peptides which has the power to immobilize animal prey on the spot. However, some of the toxins in this cocktail damages only insects. Prof. MichaelGurevitz from Tel Aviv University has harnessed this property to create a safe and ecologically sound pesticide.

Prof. Gurevitz developed genetic methods for producing and manipulating the desired toxins in bacteria. He then investigated how they act against insects and mammals. Some neurotoxins in the scorpion are highly active against some insects like leaf-eating moths, locusts, flies and beetles ― but have no effect on beneficial insects like honeybees or on mammals like humans. This has great potential for the agriculture industry.

The agriculture industry already uses mostly pyrethroids that can penetrate into insects and attack their nervous systems, leading to paralysis and death. The main drawback of this method is that, they lack specificity and the danger these compounds pose to the environment, livestock and humans.

The new research thus brings in a very safe alternative to dangerous traditionally used chemicals.

Details of the research appears in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution

1 comment:

Jacob George said...

Good post Mohan. Nice to know that protecting biodiversity has so many benefits