WBEZ | venom http://www.wbez.org/tags/venom Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Meet the most venomous fish (and some other cool critters) http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2011-09-21/meet-most-venomous-fish-and-some-other-cool-critters-92301 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-21/WEB fish head.png" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="The Reef Stonefish has a face for radio (WBEZ/Gabriel Spitzer)" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-21/WEB%20fish%20head.png" title="The Reef Stonefish has a face for radio (WBEZ/Gabriel Spitzer)" height="393" width="500"></p><p>In last week’s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2011-09-13/clever-apes-18-biological-weapons-91950">episode</a>, we talked to <font color="#0000ff"><a href="http://homepage.mac.com/wmleosmith/">Leo Smith</a></font> about his work with venomous fish and the promise they may hold for medical science. It turns out that there are more venomous fish than any other kind of animal, far more than snakes and scorpions combined. One particularly nasty one is the <font color="#0000ff"><a href="http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=5825&amp;genusname=Synanceia&amp;speciesname=verrucosa&amp;AT=synanceia+verrucosa%E3%80%88=English">Reef Stonefish</a></font>. He is an ugly and supposedly delicious species that holds the distinction of being the world’s most venomous fish.</p><p>Smith introduced us to the Stonefish during our visit to the “wet lab” at the Field Museum. Listen below:</p><p style="margin-bottom: 0in;">&nbsp;</p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483727-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/reeffish.mp3">&nbsp;</audio><p style="margin-bottom: 0in;">To see what a Reef Stonefish looks like alive, check out these <a href="http://australianmuseum.net.au/image/Reef-Stonefish-at-Baldwins-Bommie/">photos</a> and <a href="http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Summary/videos.php?speccode=5825">videos</a>.</p><p style="margin-bottom: 0in; text-align: center;"><img alt="The Reef Stonefish's venomous spine (Courtesy of Leo Smith)" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-21/WEB%20fish%20spine%20closeup.png" title="The Reef Stonefish's venomous spine (Courtesy of Leo Smith)" height="375" width="500"></p><p style="margin-bottom: 0in;">Smith has led a comprehensive study that is greatly expanding the number of known venomous fish. In the extended version of our interview, he explains that venom traits evolved in fish not just once but possibly as many as 14 times. He expects that when they are done, fish will represent two-thirds of all venomous creatures. Listen below:</p><p>&nbsp;</p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483727-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/Fish%20venom%20extended%20interview.mp3">&nbsp;</audio><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Leo Smith holding a Pelican Eel in the way it would likely be seen in the wild (" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-21/WEB%20eel-ish%20thing.png" title="Leo Smith holding a Pelican Eel in the way it would likely be seen in the wild (WBEZ/Gabriel Spitzer)" height="341" width="500"></p><p>In addition to the venomous specimens in the lab, Smith also showed off some of the other interesting sea life in the collection. Above, he holds up a <a href="http://www.fishbase.us/summary/speciessummary.php?id=4526">Pelican Eel</a>. These guys live more than a half mile deep in the oceans where it is extremely cold and dark. They have two very neat features: the large pelican-like mouth you can see pretty clearly above and a <a href="http://www.seasky.org/deep-sea/biolumiscence.html">bioluminescent</a> organ in the tail that glows in the dark to attract prey. &nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Smith displays the Coelacanth, a living fossil (WBEZ/Gabriel Spitzer)" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-21/WEB%20big%20fish%20tank.png" title="Smith displays the Coelacanth, a living fossil (WBEZ/Gabriel Spitzer)" height="367" width="500"></p><p>The specimen in that big vat is a <a href="http://www.fishbase.us/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?ID=2063&amp;AT=coelacanth">Coelacanth</a>. It was thought to have gone extinct 80 million years ago, until a researcher discovered one in 1938. The Coelacanth is considered a “missing link” between fish and amphibians. Smith says that they are more closely related to amphibians and to us than they are to other fishes. They are interesting from an evolutionary standpoint because they have lobed fins. This means that they basically have a shoulder and are “on their way” to having arms and legs.</p></p> Wed, 21 Sep 2011 21:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2011-09-21/meet-most-venomous-fish-and-some-other-cool-critters-92301 Clever Apes #18: Biological weapons http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2011-09-13/clever-apes-18-biological-weapons-91950 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-14/cleverapes.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="Workers at the Ricketts Lab wear full-body protection when working with anthrax " class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-13/Bovina tries on mask.png" style="width: 588px; height: 599px;" title="Workers at the Ricketts Lab wear full-body protection when working with anthrax and plague. (WBEZ/Michael de Bonis)"></p><p>Just a week after the September 11th attacks, nerves still raw, America was hit with its <a href="http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/history/famous-cases/anthrax-amerithrax">worst-ever biological attack</a>. The anthrax letters set off a new wave of panic, and reminded scientists how little we understand some of the world’s most dangerous germs. So the government <a href="http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-AI-04-032.html">chartered 13 labs </a>to study these pathogens, as well as aggressive infectious disease agents. Given that the anthrax strain sent through the mail was thought to have been stolen from a lab, it’s no surprise that the new labs are highly secure.</p><p>But Clever Apes got inside one.</p><p><strong><span style="font-size: 8px;">listen to the full episode:</span></strong></p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483719-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/Clever_Apes_18_Biological_Weapons.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p>OK, all we really did was ask, and they said, sure. But it’s still kind of an otherworldly experience to see how people work with deadly bugs like anthrax, plague, MRSA and others.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.htrl.uchicago.edu/">Howard T. Ricketts Laboratory</a> is run by the University of Chicago, and located on the campus of Argonne National Laboratory. In the latest installment of Clever Apes, we largely skip over the science (more on that coming in a few days), and consider instead what it’s like to work at a place like the Ricketts lab. How do you take a coffee break when you’re in containment? How does your pizza delivery guy get through multiple layers of security? Do you worry about bringing plague home to your kids?</p><p><img alt="Researcher Hannah Maier preps bacteria samples. (WBEZ/Michael De Bonis)" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-13/female researcher in lab.png" style="width: 600px; height: 449px;" title="Researcher Hannah Maier preps bacteria samples. (WBEZ/Michael De Bonis)"></p><p>One exciting thing that we learned: the producers of the new movie <a href="http://contagionmovie.warnerbros.com/index.html">Contagion </a>consulted with the staff at U of C and the Ricketts lab, and even recruited some as extras. Biosafety chief John Bivona was one of them, and he says the film gets the lab protocols exactly right, down to the inspection stickers on equipment. He says the 1995 film <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114069/plotsummary">Outbreak</a>, on the other hand, is a case study in what not to do in a biosafety lab. People in that movie were wearing their respirators upside-down, for goodness sake.</p><p><img alt="Leo Smith shows the spines of the world's most venomous fish, the Reef Stonefish" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-13/fish spines.png" style="width: 600px; height: 400px;" title="Leo Smith shows the spines of the world's most venomous fish, the Reef Stonefish. (WBEZ/Gabriel Spitzer)"></p><p>For another take on biological warfare, we head to the<a href="http://fieldmuseum.org/explore/department/collections-resource-center"> “wet lab” </a>at the Field Museum, where <a href="http://homepage.mac.com/wmleosmith/">Leo Smith specializes in venomous fish. </a>It turns out there are many, many more of them than there are venomous snakes or scorpions, and yet we know next to nothing about them. Smith says the ever-growing catalog of known venomous fish could be a treasure trove for developing new drugs.</p><p>So put on your Hazmat suits, and don’t forget your Cipro. Gosh, remember the Cipro craze?</p><p>Meanwhile, subscribe to our <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CleverApesPodcast" target="_blank" title="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CleverApesPodcast">podcast</a>, follow us on&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/cleverapes" target="_blank" title="http://twitter.com/#!/cleverapes">Twitter</a>, and find us on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clever-Apes-on-WBEZ/118246851551412" target="_blank" title="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clever-Apes-on-WBEZ/118246851551412">Facebook</a>.</p><p><img alt="Ya-Ting Wang in full garb, in the biosafety level 3 area of the Ricketts lab. (" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-13/researcher in level 3.png" style="width: 588px; height: 528px;" title="Ya-Ting Wang in full garb, in the biosafety level 3 area of the Ricketts lab. (WBEZ/Michael De Bonis)"></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 14 Sep 2011 00:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2011-09-13/clever-apes-18-biological-weapons-91950