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Toxins 2016, 8(1), 30;

The Biochemical Toxin Arsenal from Ant Venoms

CNRS, UMR Écologie des Forêts de Guyane (AgroParisTech, CIRAD, CNRS, INRA, Université de Guyane, Université des Antilles), Campus Agronomique, BP 316, Kourou Cedex 97379, France
BTSB (Biochimie et Toxicologie des Substances Bioactives) Université de Champollion, Place de Verdun, Albi 81012, France
Neurotoxin Research Group, School of Medical & Molecular Biosciences, University of Technology Sydney, Broadway, Sydney, NSW 2007, Australia
Red Imported Fire Ant Research Center, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou 510642, China
VenomeTech, 473 Route des Dolines—Villa 3, Valbonne 06560, France
Laboratoire Écologie Fonctionnelle et Environnement, 118 Route de Narbonne, Toulouse 31062, France
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: Glenn F. King
Received: 22 December 2015 / Revised: 7 January 2016 / Accepted: 8 January 2016 / Published: 20 January 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Arthropod Venoms)
Full-Text   |   PDF [2473 KB, uploaded 20 January 2016]   |  


Ants (Formicidae) represent a taxonomically diverse group of hymenopterans with over 13,000 extant species, the majority of which inject or spray secretions from a venom gland. The evolutionary success of ants is mostly due to their unique eusociality that has permitted them to develop complex collaborative strategies, partly involving their venom secretions, to defend their nest against predators, microbial pathogens, ant competitors, and to hunt prey. Activities of ant venom include paralytic, cytolytic, haemolytic, allergenic, pro-inflammatory, insecticidal, antimicrobial, and pain-producing pharmacologic activities, while non-toxic functions include roles in chemical communication involving trail and sex pheromones, deterrents, and aggregators. While these diverse activities in ant venoms have until now been largely understudied due to the small venom yield from ants, modern analytical and venomic techniques are beginning to reveal the diversity of toxin structure and function. As such, ant venoms are distinct from other venomous animals, not only rich in linear, dimeric and disulfide-bonded peptides and bioactive proteins, but also other volatile and non-volatile compounds such as alkaloids and hydrocarbons. The present review details the unique structures and pharmacologies of known ant venom proteinaceous and alkaloidal toxins and their potential as a source of novel bioinsecticides and therapeutic agents. View Full-Text
Keywords: ant venom; toxins; venom biochemistry; alkaloids; formic acid; peptides; enzymes ant venom; toxins; venom biochemistry; alkaloids; formic acid; peptides; enzymes

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Touchard, A.; Aili, S.R.; Fox, E.G.P.; Escoubas, P.; Orivel, J.; Nicholson, G.M.; Dejean, A. The Biochemical Toxin Arsenal from Ant Venoms. Toxins 2016, 8, 30.

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