The existence of tick toxins is an old enigma that has intrigued scientists for a long time. The adaptive value of using deadly toxins for predatory animals is obvious: they try to kill the prey in the most effective way or protect themselves from their natural enemies. Ticks, however, are blood sucking parasites and it seems paradoxical that they have toxins similar to spiders, scorpions and snakes. Based on published data, here we examine the potential adaptive function of different types of toxins produced by soft and hard ticks. We hypothesize that there are diverse evolutionary roles behind: (1) to attack and reduce the tick transmitted pathogens inside the vertebrate host systemically to protect the tick, (2) to paralyse the host to stop grooming, (3) to speed up host heart beat to improve blood supply and (4) to inhibit the process of necroptosis to prevent the rejection of hard ticks. We will provide published evidence that support the above mentioned hypotheses and we will give an outlook how these new scientific results might be applied in modern pharmacology and medicine.
Apari P, Földvári G: Harm or protection? The adaptive function of tick toxins (2021)
Apari P, G Földvári
Harm or protection? The adaptive function of tick toxins
Evolutionary Applications 14:241-247. https://doi.org/10.1111/eva.13123
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