Kleven om te overleven: Moleculaire biologie en evolutie van lijmsecreties in amfibieën als verdedigingswapen tegen predatie



Most animals must continually defend themselves against predators. To adapt to this pressure, the skin secretion of a wide range of frogs has evolved into poisons: cocktails of toxins with various effects on attacking predators, from distastefulness to lethal neurotoxicity. Five decades of research have revealed not only the pharmacological potential of frog skin toxins, but also
provided unique ecological and evolutionary insights into the role of toxicity as a defence mechanism. However, our knowledge of alternative survival strategies that may be mediated by other compounds present in these skin secretions is still lacking. With this project, we plan to explore frog ’glues’, which refer to skin secretions that turn into extremely sticky substances within seconds, making it nearly impossible for a predator to eat the animal. This adaptation has arisen several times in distantly related amphibians, making it an especially interesting trait for evolutionary studies. By combining transcriptomics, proteomics, and functional tests, we will explore the molecular basis of biological glue in multiple species, and carry out evolutionary analyses to discover just how this sticky secretion is produced in some frogs, but not in their
closest relatives. Besides increasing our understanding of frog defence biology and bioadhesives, our research may identify new molecules that can inspire the development of adhesives and hydrogels for use in medical and biotechnological applications.
Effectieve start/einddatum1/10/1830/09/22

Flemish discipline codes

  • Ecology not elsewhere classified