Sunday, November 24, 2019

Toxic Toads Pose Threat to Madagascar's Predators

A photo of an Asian common toad

The common Asian toad has skin that is poisonous to nearly all predators in Madagascar. The toad arrived in Madagascar about 10 years ago, and scientists have always suspected it was toxic to many species, but it was not until recently that scientists found that there is genetic evidence that can confirm that this toad can kill nearly any predator on the island. The poison that is being secreted from these toads can cause a disruption of the sodium potassium flow which is critical to muscles and the heart and how they function if a predator were to consume it. However, certain predators can be immune to this toxin. A scientist Wolfgang Wuster led a research team that then discovered that any predator that presents resistance to the toxin means that they also possess a mutation in a gene for their sodium-potassium pump. However, when hey studied 77 various species that possessed resistance, only 1 was actually immune to the toad's poison. This species was the white-tailed antsangy. This means that the 76 other species would die if they consumed the toad despite having the gene mutation. I find this to be interesting because even though a species has a gene mutation that would insinuate that they would be immune to something, they actually do not in fact possess resistance. This shows that genes and mutations are a lot more complex than just having a mutation and not having a mutation.

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1 comment:

  1. I find the fact that out of the 77 species with the mutation for genetic resistance to this toxin, only one is actually immune. I would love to see further studies about the specific differences in the mutation of the immune organism versus those who have partial resistance but no immunity. This could provide fascinating insights into the ways different genes interact with each other.