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Scorpions deliver a powerful, paralyzing venom

Prof. Michael Gurevitz of Tel Aviv University's Department of Plant Sciences has isolated the genetic sequences for important neurotoxins in the scorpion venom. He's also developed methods to produce and manipulate toxins to restrict their toxicity in certain insects or mammals.

Rather than isolating the venom constituents of the Israeli yellow scorpion, known to be among the world's most poisonous scorpions, Prof. Gurevitz developed genetic methods for producing and manipulating the desired toxins in bacteria. He then investigated how they act against insects and mammals, paving the way for potential use in the agriculture industry.

Prof. Gurevitz says that some neurotoxins in the scorpion are highly active against some insects -- leaf-eating moths, locusts, flies and beetles -- but have no effect on beneficial insects like honeybees or on mammals like humans. He continues to pursue an effective mode of delivery for what could be a new insecticide.

by S. C.
21 january 2010, Technical Area > Science News

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