Ecological functions of tetrodotoxin in a deadly polyclad flatworm

Raphael Ritson-Williams, Mari Yotsu-Yamashita, Valerie J. Paul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


The deadly neurotoxin tetrodotoxin (TTX) is found in a variety of animal phyla and, because of its toxicity, is most often assumed to deter predation. On the tropical Pacific island of Guam, we found an undescribed flatworm (planocerid sp. 1) that contains high levels of TTX and its analogs. Through ecological experiments, we show that TTXs do not protect these flatworms from some predators but instead are used to capture mobile prey. TTX is known to have multiple ecological functions, which has probably led to its widespread presence among prokaryotes and at least 10 metazoan phyla.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3176-3179
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Feb 28


  • Chemical ecology
  • Prey-capture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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