Venom trade-off shapes interspecific interactions, physiology, and reproduction

Joachim M. Surm, Sydney Birch, Jason Macrander, Adrian Jaimes-Becerra, Arie Fridrich, Reuven Aharoni, Rotem Rozenblat, Julia Sharabany, Lior Appelbaum, Adam M. Reitzel, Yehu Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The ability of an animal to effectively capture prey and defend against predators is pivotal for survival. Venom is often a mixture of many components including toxin proteins that shape predator-prey interactions. Here, we used the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis to test the impact of toxin genotypes on predator-prey interactions. We developed a genetic manipulation technique to demonstrate that both transgenically deficient and a native Nematostella strain lacking a major neurotoxin (Nv1) have a reduced ability to defend themselves against grass shrimp, a native predator. In addition, secreted Nv1 can act indirectly in defense by attracting mummichog fish, which prey on grass shrimp. Here, we provide evidence at the molecular level of an animal-specific tritrophic interaction between a prey, its antagonist, and a predator. Last, this study reveals an evolutionary trade-off, as the reduction of Nv1 levels allows for faster growth and increased reproductive rates.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereadk3870
JournalScience advances
Issue number11
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2024

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Copyright © 2024 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CC BY).


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