Toxins from the world’s longest animal can kill cockroaches | Science News

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Toxins from the world’s longest animal can kill cockroaches

The stuff in this sea worm’s slime also took out invasive green crabs

By
7:00am, March 30, 2018
bootlace worm

THANK THIS WORM  A bootlace worm glides along in its mucus, which has newly described toxins shown to paralyze or kill cockroaches and invasive crabs.

Bootlace worms with spooky-stretchy bodies secrete a family of toxins new to scientists. These compounds might inspire novel ways to attack pests such as cockroaches.

Tests first identified the toxins in mucus coating a bootlace species that holds the record as the world’s longest animal, says pharmacognosist Ulf Göransson of Uppsala University in Sweden. This champion marine worm (Lineus longissimus) can stretch up to 55 meters, longer than an Olympic-sized pool, and coats itself in mucus smelling a bit like iron or sewage. That goo holds small toxic proteins, now dubbed nemertides, that are also found in 16 other bootlace worm species, Göransson and colleagues write March 22 in Scientific Reports.

The newly described nemertides attack tiny channels in cell walls that control the amount of sodium flowing in and out of the cell. Much vital cell business, such as communications

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