MBL’s Duygu Özpolat has helped track down the sophisticated hunting strategy of the imperial cone snail, which eats, among other things, the polychaete worm (Platynereis dumerilii) that the Özpolat lab uses for research on regeneration. The study, published this week in Science Advances, shows that the snail venom contains small molecules that mimic natural polychaete mating pheromones, evoking the mating phenotype in worms and enabling the snail to close in for the kill.
Excerpted below is an article in The Atlantic about the findings.
By Katherine J. Wu
The aptly named cone snail wears a house that resembles a Ben & Jerry’s receptacle, filled not with ice cream but with a squishy mollusk that sports an extendable, trunklike proboscis.The snails are superficially docile creatures, and can be painfully shy; sometimes they go weeks in a lab without taking a single bite of food, cringing at the slightest change in temperature, lighting, or human supervision. “These are not racing snails,” says Eric Schmidt, a biochemist at the University of Utah. Read more …