Sea Anemones as Insecticides?

Written by on November 29, 2012 in Marine Life

Emily Tripp

Aggregating anemone, Anthopleura elegantissima.

Aggregating anemone, Anthopleura elegantissima. Photo credit: Kathy DeWet-Oleson, NOAA/NMS.

New research shows that some toxins from sea anemones could be used as environmentally-friendly insecticides.

The research team discovered that venom from the sea anemone, Anthopleura elegantissima, contains toxins that would avoid resistance by insects and could potentially be used to treat pain and inflammation.

“Are toxins friend or foe? The more we understand these toxins, they are more friend, and less foe,” said co-author Dr. Jan Tytgat from the Laboratory of Toxicology at the University of Leuven. “Toxicology shows us how to exploit Mother Nature’s biodiversity for better and healthier living.”

“Because these toxins are aimed at important ion channels present not only in insect cells, they form the leading edge of our new biotechnology. Discovery of this useful marine toxin should provide additional incentive to preserve the fragile coral reefs where anemones thrive,” said Gerald Weissmann, MD, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “But, given current attitudes, I suspect there’s a better chance of a sea anemone killing a stink bug than for us to reverse our inroads on ocean life.”

To learn more:

Aggregating anemone, Anthopleura elegantissima.

Aggregating anemone, Anthopleura elegantissima. Photo credit: Nancy Sefton, NOAA/NMS.

Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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