Spiders hate the pain-inducing chemicals insects use to protect from predators just as much as humans do. In fact, spiders feel the pain through similar molecular mechanisms.
Many insects produce chemicals to make themselves “taste bad” or irritate the skin of mammals and birds that eat them. Spiders primarily eat insects but we do not know if the “irritating” insects affect spiders in the same way. We sequenced the genes of a wolf spider and discovered they likely detect irritating chemicals in a similar way to mammals, including humans. This tells us that even distantly related animals detect noxious stimuli similarly. Subtle differences in the spider genes that detect irritating chemicals might mean there are chemicals that would only be aversive to spiders.
(contact: Cecil J. Saunders, [email protected]; +1 828-443-3652).
Authors: Cecil J. Saunders, Hayden M. Graser, Nandan J. Patel, Du Gu, Crawford Tanner, McKenzie Needham, Glen S. Marrs, Erik C. Johnson.
The poster presentation “Chemesthesis and TRP Channels in the Wolf Spider, Tigrosa georgicola” (#D202) takes place Monday April 15th, 9:00-11:00 pm ET in the Estero Ballroom.