The longest running Amphibian Community on the Internet.

Tags Register FAQ Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read Caudata.org Store Donate


The effect of TTX on Garter Snakes?

This is a discussion on The effect of TTX on Garter Snakes? within the North American Newts (Notophthalmus & Taricha) forums, part of the Species, Genus & Family Discussions category; I only know the bare bones about tetradotoxins, aswell as T. Granulosa. I just happened to see a documentary (no ...

North American Newts (Notophthalmus & Taricha) While not closely related, these two genera are the true newts of North America.

Like Tree1Likes
  • 1 Post By slowfoot

Reply

 

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 28th November 2008   #1 (permalink)
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Nationality:
Location: [ Members Only ]
Age: 19
Posts: 305
Gallery Images: 9
Comments: 10
Rep: IanF has given consistently good advice and informationIanF has given consistently good advice and informationIanF has given consistently good advice and informationIanF has given consistently good advice and information
Default The effect of TTX on Garter Snakes?

I only know the bare bones about tetradotoxins, aswell as T. Granulosa. I just happened to see a documentary (no idea what it was called sorry, just happened to randomly find it on the TV) anyway it was on the Evolution of Toxic newts. Of course it focused on the rough-skinned newt and was talking about how the theory was that the newts toxcicity increased to higher levels because some species of garter snake was resistant to their toxins. Anyway I found it all very interesting but the one question they didn't is how the snake resists the toxin. I know it isn't a protein-based toxin so I suppose enzymes wouldn't do the job. This may be all completely wrong but I'd appreciate it if anyone could tell me a little bit more about how TTX works, and how the snake resists it.

Thanks,
Ian
__________________
Men willingly believe what they wish. Julius Caesar, De Bello Gallico
Roman author, general, & politician (100 BC - 44 BC)
IanF is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th November 2008   #2 (permalink)
Prolific Member
 
slowfoot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Nationality:
Location: [ Members Only ]
Posts: 578
Gallery Images: 23
Comments: 0
Rep: slowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.org
Default Re: The effect of TTX on Garter Snakes?

Hi Ian,

I used to teach evolution for the professor who's done a lot of this work. I'll try to summarize what I know, and give you a link to a more in-depth description.

Basically, TTX works by blocking sodium channels in nerves. As you may or may not know, nerves use the propagation of action potentials - or waves of changing charge - along their lengths. The way this is done is by the movement of charged ions across the nerve cell's membrane. One of the most important ions in action potential propogation is sodium (Na+), which moves through a special sodium channel in the nerve.

The TTX toxin basically sits inside the sodium channel (which looks like a little pore), effectively blocking any sodium from entering or leaving. The nerve can't send impulses when this happens. And TTX is very potent, so a little will affect many nerves, basically stopping all movement, including breathing.

The resistant snakes have evolved a slightly differently shaped sodium channel, which isn't blocked as effectively by TTX. It's happened more than once, so different populations of snakes have differently modified channels.

Anyway, here's a more technical summary with pictures:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2..._in_snakes.php

Hope that helps - there's actually a lot more interesting stuff about this system.

ETA: I actually have a pretty funny story about a visiting grad student who grabbed a Taricha out of a tank in this lab and licked it. And why he survived. I'll tell it if anyone's interested.
slowfoot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th November 2008   #3 (permalink)
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Nationality:
Location: [ Members Only ]
Age: 19
Posts: 305
Gallery Images: 9
Comments: 10
Rep: IanF has given consistently good advice and informationIanF has given consistently good advice and informationIanF has given consistently good advice and informationIanF has given consistently good advice and information
Default Re: The effect of TTX on Garter Snakes?

Thanks Erin, that's very intresting. And what's more it makes sense to me! It's always good to know I'm capable of understanding this sort of thing.
Oh and I'd like to know why a Student was silly enough to lick a newt.....let alone a very poisoinous one? Sounds like a story I'd like to hear. Also what does ETA mean?
__________________
Men willingly believe what they wish. Julius Caesar, De Bello Gallico
Roman author, general, & politician (100 BC - 44 BC)
IanF is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th November 2008   #4 (permalink)
Prolific Member
 
slowfoot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Nationality:
Location: [ Members Only ]
Posts: 578
Gallery Images: 23
Comments: 0
Rep: slowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.org
Default Re: The effect of TTX on Garter Snakes?

Hehe. ETA means 'edited to add'.

Okay, story time

So, this was during a graduate recruitment drive, when lots of students come and visit different labs to see if they'd like to come. The professors and resident grad students are also checking out the new recruits to see if they'd be a good match.

Anyway, this particular guy was visiting the lab where they do the snake/newt work. He was convinced, based on a previous little study he'd done, that the newts don't make TTX on their own - they get it from their diet instead - so any newts held in captivity would be harmless. Well, the professor in the lab and the other grad students were absolutely sure that the newts in the lab, despite being in captivity for many years, were still very toxic.

So this guy feels he absolutely has to prove his point. He reaches into one of the newt tanks, grabs a big ol' fat Taricha from one of the most toxic populations, and - before anyone can stop him - gives it a big lick. Everyone's totally shocked and they all just stare at this guy, waiting for him to drop dead or at least get a little paralyzed: no one knows if a single lick is enough to kill someone.

After a few minutes, it's obvious that he's going to be fine. He's all happy because he thinks he just proved his point. The professor takes that particular newt and runs a test to see how much TTX it actually contains. It's absolutely loaded with TTX, thousands of times the amount needed to kill one grad student.

The key is that because the newt was so used to being handled, it wasn't overly upset about being grabbed and licked, so it just wasn't secreting any TTX. Needless to say, the guy didn't get into the lab.

So the moral of the story is: don't grab and lick a professor's newts
slowfoot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th November 2008   #5 (permalink)
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Nationality:
Location: [ Members Only ]
Age: 19
Posts: 305
Gallery Images: 9
Comments: 10
Rep: IanF has given consistently good advice and informationIanF has given consistently good advice and informationIanF has given consistently good advice and informationIanF has given consistently good advice and information
Default Re: The effect of TTX on Garter Snakes?

Funny story! While we're at it, sorry to press you with questions, what exactly is TTX made of, it's not a protien toxin (isn't that more in the venom of snakes...?) so what is it? Full of questions!
__________________
Men willingly believe what they wish. Julius Caesar, De Bello Gallico
Roman author, general, & politician (100 BC - 44 BC)
IanF is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th November 2008   #6 (permalink)
Prolific Member
 
slowfoot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Nationality:
Location: [ Members Only ]
Posts: 578
Gallery Images: 23
Comments: 0
Rep: slowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.org
Default Re: The effect of TTX on Garter Snakes?

I believe it's an acid, but I'm not entirely sure - biochemistry wasn't my thing. Here's the wiki page on it, which has the molecular structure:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetrodotoxin
slowfoot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th November 2008   #7 (permalink)
Caudata.org Donor
 
Nathan050793's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Nationality:
Location: [ Members Only ]
Age: 21
Posts: 828
Gallery Images: 0
Comments: 0
Rep: Nathan050793 is a mainstay of Caudata.orgNathan050793 is a mainstay of Caudata.orgNathan050793 is a mainstay of Caudata.orgNathan050793 is a mainstay of Caudata.orgNathan050793 is a mainstay of Caudata.orgNathan050793 is a mainstay of Caudata.orgNathan050793 is a mainstay of Caudata.org
Default Re: The effect of TTX on Garter Snakes?

Erin, that story made my day! What a laugh!

I think I watched this documentary In Bio class, actually...
__________________
Useful links:
Caudata Culture Care Sheets FAQ Care Articles

Wollemi
(Look around you)
-Australian Aboriginal saying

Nathan050793 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th November 2008   #8 (permalink)
Moderator
 
Azhael's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Nationality:
Location: [ Members Only ]
Age: 29
Posts: 6,491
Gallery Images: 19
Comments: 2
Rep: Azhael has maxed out Caudata.org's Reputation System (we are not worthy!)Azhael has maxed out Caudata.org's Reputation System (we are not worthy!)Azhael has maxed out Caudata.org's Reputation System (we are not worthy!)Azhael has maxed out Caudata.org's Reputation System (we are not worthy!)Azhael has maxed out Caudata.org's Reputation System (we are not worthy!)Azhael has maxed out Caudata.org's Reputation System (we are not worthy!)Azhael has maxed out Caudata.org's Reputation System (we are not worthy!)Azhael has maxed out Caudata.org's Reputation System (we are not worthy!)Azhael has maxed out Caudata.org's Reputation System (we are not worthy!)Azhael has maxed out Caudata.org's Reputation System (we are not worthy!)Azhael has maxed out Caudata.org's Reputation System (we are not worthy!)
Default Re: The effect of TTX on Garter Snakes?

May i ask if anyone knows the name of the documentary? IŽd love to see if i can find it.
__________________
Please become acquainted with the forum rules.

Useful Links: Caudata Culture | Species Accounts | Care Articles | Newt and Salamander FAQs | Axolotl.org | Axolotl FAQs | Forum Functions.


Non Timetis Messor.
Azhael is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th November 2008   #9 (permalink)
Prolific Member
 
slowfoot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Nationality:
Location: [ Members Only ]
Posts: 578
Gallery Images: 23
Comments: 0
Rep: slowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.orgslowfoot is considered an Authority at Caudata.org
Default Re: The effect of TTX on Garter Snakes?

I know the story is featured in the PBS series "Evolution", here's a clip of it - Drs. Brodie and Brodie out hunting for snakes (Warning: they make a snake puke):



eta: The snake/newt bit is featured in episode 4: "The Evolutionary Arms Race"
slowfoot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 3rd September 2010   #10 (permalink)
Junior Member
 
Marcus's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Nationality:
Posts: 7
Gallery Images: 0
Comments: 0
Rep: Marcus has started on the right path
Default Re: The effect of TTX on Garter Snakes?

Hey,

I didn't find this link I read for my master-thesis so I just post it here. Maybe somebody else did before but mybe it's also new for you. It shows the evolution of the poison of the newts (Taricha granulosa) and the resistance evolution by the garter snakes. It shows the hotspots of this co-evolution. It occurs where the newts are the only prey of the snakes and it evolved twice: in the drier parts of Oregon and in central California. On Vancouver Island for example where the garter snakes have a greater variety of amphibian prey the newts are nearly non-toxic at all! I think this is a very interesting topic. Here you can find the paper!
I hope I showed you something new. Otherwise forget this post


Kind regards,

Marcus
Marcus is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
effect, garter, snakes, snakes?, ttx

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


Similar Threads

Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Question: Aroma effect Ronny Sick Axolotl? 1 26th July 2008 05:30
Herping for snakes? pt2 sean General Discussion & News from Members 0 2nd October 2005 23:43
Herping for Snakes? sean General Discussion & News from Members 13 31st July 2005 20:23
Flash effect jeffrey Photo & Video Gallery 4 14th August 2004 00:34


All times are GMT. The time now is 05:54.