Proposal title

Diversity, biochemistry and pharmocology of arthropods’ venoms.

Funding & project duration

Feder: 2008-2013.


Alain Dejean and Jérôme Orivel


VenomeTech, Valbonne, France

Executive summary

Venoms have been extensively studied in a number of organisms such a snakes, scorptions, spiders and cones. Although ants are among the most ecologically important organisms on Earth, the composition and properties of their venoms remain, however, mostly unknown.

The BI-Appli project aims at discovering and developing new drugs based on venom peptides from French Guianian ants. Our main objective is to caracterize the diversity of peptides, their activity and molecular targets in relation to ecological and behavioural factors. More specifically, we are focusing on:

  • Chemotaxonomy and biochemical identification of the peptides by HPLC and mass spectrometry.
  • Quantification of their pharmacological activities.
  • Investigation of the role of food specialization on the evolution of venom’s peptides through the comparative study of both specialist and generalist predators.
  • Determination of the relationships between venoms and nesting/foraging habits. Are there particular/specific toxins in the venoms of arboreal-dwelling species that could be linked to the structural constraints of the arboreal environment?

Our main study systems are the venoms of ants of the subfamily Ponerinae because predators stricto sensu are overrepresented within this subfamily. Prey capture by foraging workers of these species is generally performed solitarily thanks to the use of venom.

The BI-Appli project thus offers an innovative, multidisciplinary approach to drug discovery, by exploring this new biological resource.

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