What is it about?

A quick method to extract venom from arthropods with high purity and efficiency is presented. Materials needed: venomous insects; tweezers; centrifuge tubes; glass wool or some very fine mesh; a centrifuge. Procedure: (i) Dissect out the insect body part containing the venom gland and stinger, dry, on a glass. (ii) Accumulate those on the fine mesh or wool, and place it into the centrifuge tubes. (iii) Centrifuge the tubes up to 3-5k g. (iv) Carefully remove the body parts from the tubes, and (v) find the liquid venom collected at the bottom of the tubes. The method is so simple and straightforward I am surprised nobody had described or claimed it before. WARNING: Venoms are *dangerous* biological samples and thus should be handled by **responsible adults**. Not to be used illegally or in any otherwise destructive way.

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Why is it important?

Arthropod venoms are invaluable sources of natural active substances. Research in this field has been greatly delayed by the difficulties involved in obtaining venom is quantities large enough for bioassays. Also, many venom extraction methods for smaller insects (e.g. ants) involve solvents, which will inevitably dramatically change the biochemical composition of venom. This is directly demonstrated in this paper with the fire ants, wherein the new method of venom extraction reveals novel components previously overlooked by studies relying on cruder extraction by dipping in organic solvents.

Perspectives

Although short and technically trivial, this is one of the most important publications in this field. I have been working on fire ants since 2010, trying to devise new ways of extracting their venom to advance research. Fire ants are remarkably obnoxious stinging ants, and they do not deliver venom by electrical stimulation. I had a rather difficult time as a postdoctoral fellow in China. Already adapting to such a different culture is not easy, and plus unexpectedly limited support & resources were slowing the development of my venom projects! Still one must find ways of turning obstacles to his favour. Thus as an upside of this adverse period, I have had groundbreaking insights. Among these I envisioned such a cheap, trivial way of obtaining venom which could make my research more independent and sustainable. I have devised this method completely alone, during lonely weekend nights in the lab, alongside my ant colonies. Other co-authors participated in finding & collecting specimens, and providing essential subsistence. I am quite satisfied with this novel methodological discovery, and shall be employing it in a number of subsequent tests and assays with arthropod venoms. I hope colleagues elsewhere will also perceive the great potential in the method, and perhaps improve it further.

Dr Eduardo G P Fox
IBCCF / UFRJ

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This page is a summary of: Speedy milking of fresh venom from aculeate hymenopterans, Toxicon, May 2018, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.toxicon.2018.02.050.
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