Two researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc)’s Evolutionary Venomics Lab have identified 78 novel superfamilies of spider venom toxins, and have traced their origin to a primordial source from about 375 million years ago. The venom evolution of spiders was found to be influenced by how it was used – for capturing prey or in self-defence. The researchers named the source template ‘Adi Shakti’, after the creator of the universe, according to Hindu mythology. The 78 novel toxin superfamilies have been labeled after deities of death, destruction and the underworld from across cultures. The findings of the study, published in peer-reviewed scientific journal eLife, suggest that venomous organisms have successfully evolved due to the biochemical activities of toxins. It also underlines a ‘two-speed’ mode of venom evolution where the offensive toxins amplify their functional diversity to gain an evolutionary advantage over prey.
Today: December 10, 2023