Whether they’re talking about people or animals, looks can be deceiving.
The most innocent-looking critters can pack a huge punch.
Take this tiny fish.
Pretty cute, right?
Or maybe it’d look like a tasty snack if you were a predator in a reef.
At least, until it reveals a pair of sharp fangs in its lower jaw, which can inject a potent venom.
That’s why it’s called a fangblenny.
But there’s a twist to the fangblenny’s toxic bite.
It seriously messes up predators but, unlike the searing pain from something like a stingray
spine, the venom probably doesn’t hurt much at all.
In fact, an international team of biologists reported this week in the journal Current
Biology that one of the chemicals in the venom is more like a painkiller.
So we might even be able to someday use it in medicine!
These were the first scientists to analyze fangblenny venom.
And they found three types of proteins that act as toxins, none of which had ever been
found in fish before.
One was a special type of enzyme similar to those in bee and snake venom, which can do
a lot of damage by ripping apart cell membranes.
Plus, there was a neuropeptide that’s also found in cone snails, which could be acting
as a neurotransmitter.
And the third kind of peptide could bind to opioid receptors, and block pain, among other
Some scorpions use similar proteins.
基本上 这种小小的横口鳚已经进化到将蛇 蜗牛和蝎子的毒液
Basically, the itty-bitty fangblenny evolved a venom that’s snake, snail, and scorpion
venom – all rolled into one.
As for how this venom works, tests on rats showed that its main effect is to dramatically
lower blood pressure, probably because of the two peptides.
The scientists think this blood pressure drop could make any predators uncoordinated, or
even start violently shaking… even if it’s not painful because of the opioid-like compound.
That’s enough to let a fangblenny slip away without a scratch.
It’s a good enough strategy that lots of harmless fish have evolved to mimic venomous
fangblennies, from their colors to their swimming styles.
And humans might be able to benefit by copying the fangblenny, too.
Scientists who study venoms are always on the look-out for new molecules that could
be useful in medicine, and the researchers say this unique venom might be worth studying
as a new type of painkiller.
If it sounds weird to look in fish venom for new drugs, some scientists are considering
an even stranger prospect: using bacteria as antibiotics.
抗生素 当然 是用来杀死细菌的
Antibiotics, of course, are supposed to kill bacteria.
So the idea of injecting more bacteria into your bacteria-ridden body seems… kind of
But this bacterium – called Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus, or BV for short – could help.
In a paper published this week in Biophysical Journal, scientists learned more about how
these assassins hunt.
These bacteria might offer a new way to treat infections that are resistant to multiple
多重药物治疗或者打破生物膜的 多样集合 附着于表面的细菌的感染
drugs, or bust apart biofilms, the slimey collections of microbes that coat surfaces,
like on medical equipment.
BV kills other bacteria kind of like a virus does.
它挤进细菌细胞里 复制重生 然后所有的克隆宝宝们都闯出来
It squeezes inside a bacterial cell, replicates, and then all those clone babies burst out,
killing the host.
Because it works differently from antibiotics, which usually target specific bits around
or inside bacterial cells, BV can kill bacteria even after many drugs have failed.
Bacteria don’t seem to evolve ways to defend themselves against this kind of attack.
你的细胞很安全 因为BV只能在革兰氏阴性细菌中生长 比如
And your cells are safe, because BV can only grow inside gram-negative bacteria, like E.
大肠埃氏菌 沙门氏菌 都有种特定的细胞壁包围着它们
coli or Salmonella, which have a specific kind of cell wall surrounding them.
But while we know some things about BV’s life cycle, and even have its genome sequenced,
how BV finds its prey has been a mystery.
Is BV an active hunter, tracking its victims by sensing chemical signals?
Or is it just bumping into them by chance?
知道细菌用的是哪种战术 对于如何把它作为治疗手段使用 是非常有帮助的
Knowing which tactic the bacteria use could be really helpful in figuring out how to use
them as a treatment, whether in hospitals or human bodies.
好吧 在这周的研究中 印第安纳州立大学的科学家们发现
Well, in the study from this week, scientists at Indiana University found that BV movement
is random, but it has a trick for upping its chances of running into its victims.
The researchers used microscopes to watch BV, along with some E. coli prey, swimming
in some liquid.
That swimming is the key.
The bacterium has a flagellum that propels it through water super quickly.
It can cover a distance 100 times its body length in one second!
All that tail-whipping makes a lot of swirling waves, which makes BV swim in circles and
zero in on surfaces, or other obstacles – in this case, microbeads the researchers added.
And those surfaces were also the regions with the most E. coli.
大肠埃希氏菌更大 更慢 但也在同样的地方被捕食
E. coli is bigger and slower, but also gets trapped in the same places because of the
way it swims.
So, even though BV doesn’t use any chemical or electrical signals to know what it’s
doing, it still ends up where other bacteria are likely to be.
It’s possible scientists could engineer the bacterium to be even more sensitive and
zero in on surfaces faster, which could make it even an more efficient antibiotic.
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