Structure and function of predatory and defensive venoms in cone snails (2016–2018)
We recently discovered that cone snails are remarkable in their ability to rapidly and reversibly switch between distinct venoms in response to predatory or defensive stimuli, implying that defensive and predatory venoms have evolved under separate selection pressures. These findings provide the first insight into how cone snails were able to shift from a worm diet to fish and mollusc diets. Our ability to obtain separate predatory and defensive venoms and venom duct tissue from individual cone snails provides a unique opportunity to compare and contrast the structure and function of conotoxins evolved for predation versus those evolved for defence. Our approach will accelerate the search for novel bioactive peptides in cone snail venoms.