Toxicon : official journal of the International Society on Toxinology

Noxious newts and their natural enemies: Experimental effects of tetrodotoxin exposure on trematode parasites and aquatic macroinvertebrates.

PMID 28755852


The dermal glands of many amphibian species secrete toxins or other noxious substances as a defense strategy against natural enemies. Newts in particular possess the potent neurotoxin tetrodotoxin (TTX), for which the highest concentrations are found in species within the genus Taricha. Adult Taricha are hypothesized to use TTX as a chemical defense against vertebrate predators such as garter snakes (Thamnophis spp.). However, less is known about how TTX functions to defend aquatic-developing newt larvae against natural enemies, including trematode parasites and aquatic macroinvertebrates. Here we experimentally investigated the effects of exogenous TTX exposure on survivorship of the infectious stages (cercariae) of five species of trematode parasites that infect larval amphibians. Specifically, we used dose-response curves to test the sensitivity of trematode cercariae to progressively increasing concentrations of TTX (0.0 [control], 0.63, 3.13, 6.26, 31.32, and 62.64 nmol L