It’s a unique genetic trick developed by certain snakes. They use it to avoid being eaten by poisonous congeners. According to research by the University of Queensland (UQ): Snakes use magnetism to repel toxins.
Negative with negative
Associate Professor Bryan Fry of the UQ Toxin Evolution Lab says so. The technique worked like two sides of a magnet repel each other. Where do the neurotoxins go in snake venom? To a strongly negatively charged nerve receptor, ”said Fry. “This is why neurotoxins develop with positively charged surfaces. So, according to the law of opposites, they aim at the neurological goal to induce paralysis. But some snakes have evolved. They replace a negatively charged amino acid in their receptor with a positively charged one, which means that the neurotoxin also repels itself. It’s a very inventive genetic mutation. Snakes use magnetism to fight off toxins. “
We showed that this trait developed at least ten times in different species of snakes, “he explains in a statement.
First magnetic mutation
The Burmese python, a slow moving land species, is extremely resistant to neurotoxins. “The South African mole snake, another cobra-prone snake, is also extremely hardy,” Fry said. “But if they’re babies or if they’re not living next to neurotoxic snakes that eat snakes, they don’t have that resistance. We have long known that some species, like the mongoose, are resistant to snake venom. Its mutation physically blocks neurotoxins by having a branched structure that protrudes from the receptor. However, this is the first time a magnetic effect has been observed, ”he commented.
The University of Queensland’s new facility for biomolecular interactions helped make the discovery. “There is incredible technology there that we can use to analyze thousands of samples every day. We can do tests that would have been science fiction before, ”said the study’s author.
The research was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.