The way poison frogs keep from poisoning themselves is complicated | Science News

SUPPORT SCIENCE NEWS

Science News is a nonprofit.

Help us keep you informed.


News

The way poison frogs keep from poisoning themselves is complicated

Genetic change that protects from a toxin can cause ripple effects

By
11:56am, September 22, 2017
Epipedobates anthonyi

SMALL BUT DEADLY  The potent toxin epibatidine was first discovered in 1974, when it was isolated from the skin of the phantasmal poison frog, Epipedobates anthonyi (one shown).

View the video

For some poison dart frogs, gaining resistance to one of their own toxins came with a price.

The genetic change that gives one group of frogs immunity to a particularly lethal toxin also disrupts a key chemical messenger in the brain. But the frogs have managed to sidestep the potentially damaging side effect through other genetic tweaks, researchers report in the Sept. 22 Science.

While other studies have identified genetic changes that give frogs resistance to particular toxins, this study “lets you look under the hood” to see the full effects of those changes and how the frogs are compensating, says Butch Brodie, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville who wasn’t involved in the research.

Many poison dart frogs

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More Science & the Public posts

From the Nature Index Paid Content