A Chinese praying mantis, Tenodera sinensis, was observed feeding on a living red-spotted newt, Notophthalmus viridescens. Specimens of that newt’s population are known to contain high concentrations of tetrodotoxin (TTX), a specific blocker of voltage-gated sodium channels. After experimental oral administration of a TTX-solution (1 mg/ml) to adult specimens of four mantis species, all survived high TTX concentrations (up to 30.8 μg/g body mass) as revealed by analysis of their body extracts, but they are rapidly killed by intra-abdominal injection of 1 μg TTX. The toxin was found to be gradually excreted with faeces. As demonstrated by monoclonal antibody-based immunohistochemical technique, TTX does not penetrate the mid-gut membrane, since it was localized only in the gut lumen, but not in the epithelial cells. This prevents the toxin to reach its target, the sodium channels of the insect’s nervous system, and enables the mantids to feed on toxic prey without risking poisoning.
- Notophthalmus viridescens
- Praying mantis
- Schistocerca gregaria
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics