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Christa Chatfield, Peter Ducey


Terrestrial planarians such as Bipalium kewense and B. adventitium contain a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin (TTX). TTX inhibits voltage-gated sodium channels, which blocks neurotransmission and paralyzes the muscles. Flatworms may use the toxin to stun their prey. Bacteria in the microbiome of organisms which contain TTX are believed to be the actual toxin source in marine animals. The microbiomes of terrestrial planarians remain unstudied, so it is unknown what bacteria are making TTX for them, or if bacteria are making the neurotoxin at all. In order to explore the culturable microbiomes of Bipalium flatworms, sampling of culturable bacteria is necessary because nothing is known about the genes that encode TTX production. Once isolated from worms, 16S sequencing will be used to identify the bacterial species and a competitive ELISA will be used to detect TTX production by these bacteria. My hypothesis is that the resident bacteria found in these planaria are producing TTX.

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Bipalium kewense, TTX, neurotoxin, Bipalium adventitium, terrestrial flatworms, Tetrodotoxin



Identifying TTX Producing Bacteria in Bipalium kewense and Bipalium adventitium