Funnel-web spider venom varies depending on circumstances, shows study

Scientists investigating the most poisonous spiders in the world have discovered that part of their venom varies depending on the situation, which may offer clues as to how they can be useful for human health.

A research lead by Dr. Linda Hernández Durán from James Cook University's Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine looked at the venom generated by several funnel-web species under various circumstances. The report has been released in the PLOS ONE publication.

The most poisonous spiders in the world, according to her, are funnel-webs. The most complicated venoms in the natural world are found in funnel-webs, which are prized for their potential medicinal properties and natural bioinsecticide properties. This potential may be unlocked by learning more about how they are made, according to Dr. Hernández Duran.

The group collected four distinct funnel-web species—the Sydney funnel-web (Atrax robustus), the Southern tree-dwelling (Hadronyche cerberea), the Darling Downs (Hadronyche valida), and the Border Ranges (Hadronyche valida)—and put them through a variety of tests, including being prodded with tweezers and puffed with air.

To get a proxy value for their metabolic rate, we tracked their behavior and used a laser monitor to assess their heart rate. Then, we collected their venom and used a mass spectrometer to evaluate it," explained Dr. Hernández Duran.

According to her, scientists discovered that some spiders' venom varied depending on several aspects including defensiveness and heart rate.

The expression of several venom components in the Border Ranges funnel-web was connected to heart rate and defensiveness. According to Dr. Hernández Duran, the other species didn't show this, indicating that certain relationships may be species-specific.

She claimed that using venom and acting aggressively had metabolic costs for spiders.

"As a result, spiders may employ various behavioral techniques to offset these expenses. Our findings imply that spiders may raise their metabolic rate when injecting venom and decrease their mobility when confronted with a threat, according to Dr. Hernández Duran.

She said that the research shows a connection between funnel-web activity, physiology, and venom composition.

"We proved that various venom components have a context-dependent association with distinct behavioral and physiological indicators for the first time. We discovered some important information that will aid in our future research and comprehension of the ecological function of venom.

Provided by James Cook University