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Toxins 2017, 9(10), 312;

Target-Specificity in Scorpions; Comparing Lethality of Scorpion Venoms across Arthropods and Vertebrates

CIBIO Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, InBIO, Rua Padre Armando Quintas 7, 4485-661 Vairão, Vila do Conde, Portugal
Institute of Biology Leiden, Leiden University, P.O. Box 9505, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia, Calle 50 A No 41-20, Medellín 050012, Antioquia, Colombia
Programa de Ofidismo/Escorpionismo—Serpentario, Universidad de Antioquia UdeA, Carrera 53 No 61-30, Medellín 050010, Antioquia, Colombia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Present Address: Evolutionary Biology Center (EBC), Animal Ecology Department, Uppsala University, Kåbovägen 4, house 7, SE-752 36 Uppsala, Sweden.
Academic Editor: Elisabeth Ferroni Schwartz
Received: 6 September 2017 / Revised: 22 September 2017 / Accepted: 27 September 2017 / Published: 4 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Scorpion Toxins)
PDF [292 KB, uploaded 11 October 2017]


Scorpions use their venom in defensive situations as well as for subduing prey. Since some species of scorpion use their venom more in defensive situations than others, this may have led to selection for differences in effectiveness in defensive situations. Here, we compared the LD50 of the venom of 10 species of scorpions on five different species of target organisms; two insects and three vertebrates. We found little correlation between the target species in the efficacy of the different scorpion venoms. Only the two insects showed a positive correlation, indicating that they responded similarly to the panel of scorpion venoms. We discuss the lack of positive correlation between the vertebrate target species in the light of their evolution and development. When comparing the responses of the target systems to individual scorpion venoms pairwise, we found that closely related scorpion species tend to elicit a similar response pattern across the target species. This was further reflected in a significant phylogenetic signal across the scorpion phylogeny for the LD50 in mice and in zebrafish. We also provide the first mouse LD50 value for Grosphus grandidieri. View Full-Text
Keywords: scorpions; venom; LD50; zebrafish; chicken; mealworm; waxworm scorpions; venom; LD50; zebrafish; chicken; mealworm; waxworm
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Van der Meijden, A.; Koch, B.; Van der Valk, T.; Vargas-Muñoz, L.J.; Estrada-Gómez, S. Target-Specificity in Scorpions; Comparing Lethality of Scorpion Venoms across Arthropods and Vertebrates. Toxins 2017, 9, 312.

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