April 7, 2021

12:00pm Zoom Webinar

Heather Eisthen
Michigan State University

" Toxic Relationships: Production, Detection, and Resistance to Tetrodotoxin in Rough-Skinned Newts "

Tetrodotoxin (TTX) is one of the most potent neurotoxins known, preventing the generation of action potentials in neurons and muscle cells by blocking voltage-gated sodium channels. Rough-skinned newts (Taricha granulosa) possess TTX and are locked in a famous arms race with garter snakes: some snake populations are evolving resistance to TTX, leading to increases in TTX levels in sympatric newt populations. We recently discovered that TTX is produced by microbes on the newts’ skin, dramatically complicating our ideas about the newt-snake arms race. In addition to describing this work, I will also talk about recent research in our lab examining adaptations to TTX in newt nervous systems, including resistance-conferring mutations in their voltage-gated sodium channels and their surprising ability to smell TTX.

Host: Gary Bucciarelli