What is it about?

In the past, the only way to study the venom gland transcriptome (the complete set of genetic instructions for making venom) was to sacrifice the animal. This meant that scientists could only get a single "snapshot" of the venom production process. However, this research paper introduces a new method that allows scientists to study the venom gland transcriptome without harming the scorpion. This enables them to study the transcriptome at different time points within the same individual. This new approach allows researchers to examine how venom production changes over time and to investigate how factors like diet, season, and other variables may affect the venom composition within a single scorpion. In addition, the method may be applicable to several other venomous animal groups, reducing the need to sacrifice animals for venom research.

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Why is it important?

Scorpion venoms are complex mixtures containing proteins, peptides, and other small compounds that can interact with specific targets in our body, like ion channels. Because of this, researchers believe that scorpion venoms could be a valuable source for developing new drugs.


As a venom researcher, I was much troubled by the toll this work took on the animals. That is why I am elated to enable other scientists to study venom in new and better ways while greatly reducing the burden on the animals. It is a real win-win outcome.

Arie van der Meijden
CIBIO – Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: A non-lethal method for studying scorpion venom gland transcriptomes, with a review of potentially suitable taxa to which it can be applied, PLoS ONE, November 2021, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0258712.
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