Convergent evolution Intelligent Design

What next? A tree that stings? Yes.

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From an open access paper at Science Advances:

Stinging trees from Australasia produce remarkably persistent and painful stings upon contact of their stiff epidermal hairs, called trichomes, with mammalian skin. Dendrocnide-induced acute pain typically lasts for several hours, and intermittent painful flares can persist for days and weeks. Pharmacological activity has been attributed to small-molecule neurotransmitters and inflammatory mediators, but these compounds alone cannot explain the observed sensory effects. We show here that the venoms of Australian Dendrocnide species contain heretofore unknown pain-inducing peptides that potently activate mouse sensory neurons and delay inactivation of voltage-gated sodium channels. These neurotoxins localize specifically to the stinging hairs and are miniproteins of 4 kDa, whose 3D structure is stabilized in an inhibitory cystine knot motif, a characteristic shared with neurotoxins found in spider and cone snail venoms. Our results provide an intriguing example of inter-kingdom convergent evolution of animal and plant venoms with shared modes of delivery, molecular structure, and pharmacology.

Neurotoxic peptides from the venom of the giant Australian stinging tree By Edward K. Gilding, Sina Jami, Jennifer R. Deuis, Mathilde R. Israel, Peta J. Harvey, Aaron G. Poth, Fabian B. H. Rehm, Jennifer L. Stow, Samuel D. Robinson, Kuok Yap, Darren L. Brown, Brett R. Hamilton, David Andersson, David J. Craik, Irina Vetter, Thomas Durek Science Advances 16 Sep 2020 : EABB8828

Most interesting: “Our results provide an intriguing example of inter-kingdom convergent evolution of animal and plant venoms with shared modes of delivery, molecular structure, and pharmacology.” Plants and animals are not so different after all.

Convergent evolution: Evolution appears to converge on goals—but in Darwinian terms, is that possible?

See also:

Scientists: Plants Are NOT Conscious! No, but why do serious plant scientists even need to make that clear? What has happened? Quite simply, the need to see humans as equivalent to animals has now spread to the need to see us as equivalent to plants.

Can plants be as smart as animals? Seeking to thrive and grow, plants communicate extensively, without a mind or a brainSeeking to thrive and grow, plants communicate extensively, without a mind or a brain

Is salad murder? If we think plants are “equal organisms” with respect to humans, it’s not clear whether salad is or isn’t murder. Or whether murder is even a serious ethical problem.

Researchers: Yes, plants have nervous systems too. Not only that but, like mammals, they use glutamate to speed transmission

4 Replies to “What next? A tree that stings? Yes.

  1. 1
    daveS says:

    Of course it’s in Australia.

  2. 2
    Belfast says:

    @Dave,
    Point taken.
    At the 2000 Olympics a US journalist said on interview that he admired Australians. He summed it up by saying, “Australia wants you dead.” Venomous spiders, snakes, insects, bluebottles, sharks, crocs, heat, drought, were some of the things he listed.
    Made me proud to live here.

  3. 3
    BobRyan says:

    I have Australia’s next advertisement for tourism.

    Australia. What doesn’t kill you will make you wish you were dead.

  4. 4
    OldArmy94 says:

    When I was a kid growing up in Texas, I remember jumping into a bull nettle plant bare-legged and experiencing the misery its stinging hairs can deliver.

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