Drs. Glenn King and Maggie Hardy at the Institute of Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, Australia have discovered a small protein, aptly named orally active insecticidal peptide-1 (OAIP-1), in the venom of Australian tarantulas (Selenotypus plumipes) that can kill prey when ingested orally. According to the study, OAIP-1 is fast acting and more potent than commercial pyrethroid insecticides and is very effective at killing the agricultural pest, cotton bollworm. The authors suggest that OAIP-1 may therefore be useful as a bioinsecticide. The authors conclude that it may be possible to engineer plants to express this protein to create insect-resistant crops as is already done with other spider venoms for tobacco, cotton and poplar.
Hardy MC, Daly NL, Mobli M, Morales RAV, King GF. Isolation of an Orally Active Insecticidal Toxin from the Venom of an Australian Tarantula. PLoS ONE 8(9): e73136, 2013. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073136