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Venom from the giant red bull ant is helping University of Queensland scientists understand the evolution of animal toxins in work that could lead to better treatments for pain.
Researchers from UQ's Centre for Advanced Imaging and Institute for Molecular Bioscience have completed the first comprehensive study of ant venom, revealing toxins that stimulate the human nervous system to cause pain.
Dr - Eivind - Undheim - Venom - Bees
Dr Eivind Undheim said the venom of bees and wasps had been a subject of research for some decades, but there had been little research on ant venom.
"Ants are found on every inhabited continent on Earth, and many of us are familiar with the sting their venom can produce," he said.
Ubiquity - Ants - Venom - Researchers - Ants
"But, despite the ubiquity of ants, analysing their venom has been neglected by researchers, likely due to ants' relatively small size and venom yield, and also to the widespread misconception that they produce a simple acidic venom.
"Our study revealed that the venom of the giant red bull ant is composed of a suite of peptide toxins, and that these are closely related to those found in the venoms of bees and wasps.
Discovery - Toxins - Ancestor - Gene
"This discovery suggests these toxins evolved from a common ancestor gene...
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