Here is yet another answer to the malarial epidemic as well as crop infestation — scorpion! Yes, now the deadly arachnids’ toxins can be put to better use, then to put other insects, animals and humans to death.
Researchers have used scorpion genes to develop a hyper-virulent fungus. It can kill specific insect pests – like the malaria-causing mosquitoes and a coffee crops-destroying beetle. But, yet another important part is its being non-injurious to nature – unlike the chemical pesticides; it does not contaminate the environment.
Thanks to entomology professor Raymond St. Leger of the University of Maryland for developing this eco-friendly hyper-virulent fungus. The new version of the fungus they have created is Metarhizium anisopliae, in which the scorpion toxin ‘Androctonus australis insect neurotoxin’ (AaIT ) is injected making it capable of killing pests.
Explaining the new breakthrough, St. Leger said,
Scorpions have toxins that are superbly adapted to killing insects. A scorpion kills by stabbing its prey, so we were looking for a way to get the toxin into the insect without the scorpion.
But, it is not just easy to take out the scorpion gene and put it into the fungus. For this, the piece of DNA is to be turned into something, the M. anisopliae can use properly! In cue to this problem, St. Leger developed a ‘synthetic scorpion gene’ and inserted into the M. anisopliae fungus, to make it insect-killing – hence perhaps irradiate malaria and coffee crop-pests.