The venom optimization hypothesis revisited

Morgenstern, David and King, Glenn F. (2013) The venom optimization hypothesis revisited. Toxicon, 63 1: 120-128. doi:10.1016/j.toxicon.2012.11.022

Author Morgenstern, David
King, Glenn F.
Title The venom optimization hypothesis revisited
Journal name Toxicon   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0041-0101
Publication date 2013-03-01
Year available 2012
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1016/j.toxicon.2012.11.022
Volume 63
Issue 1
Start page 120
End page 128
Total pages 9
Place of publication Kidlington, Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Pergamon
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Abstract Animal venoms are complex chemical mixtures that typically contain hundreds of proteins and non-proteinaceous compounds, resulting in a potent weapon for prey immobilization and predator deterrence. However, because venoms are protein-rich, they come with a high metabolic price tag. The metabolic cost of venom is sufficiently high to result in secondary loss of venom whenever its use becomes non-essential to survival of the animal. The high metabolic cost of venom leads to the prediction that venomous animals may have evolved strategies for minimizing venom expenditure. Indeed, various behaviors have been identified that appear consistent with frugality of venom use. This has led to formulation of the "venom optimization hypothesis" (Wigger et al. (2002) Toxicon 40, 749-752), also known as "venom metering", which postulates that venom is metabolically expensive and therefore used frugally through behavioral control. Here, we review the available data concerning economy of venom use by animals with either ancient or more recently evolved venom systems. We conclude that the convergent nature of the evidence in multiple taxa strongly suggests the existence of evolutionary pressures favoring frugal use of venom. However, there remains an unresolved dichotomy between this economy of venom use and the lavish biochemical complexity of venom, which includes a high degree of functional redundancy. We discuss the evidence for biochemical optimization of venom as a means of resolving this conundrum.
Keyword Scorpion
Venom metering
Venom optimization hypothesis
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Available online: 22 December 2012.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
Institute for Molecular Bioscience - Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 27 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 21 Jan 2013, 08:58:50 EST by Susan Allen on behalf of Institute for Molecular Bioscience