You are what you eat. Although this common phrase is one that all animals can relate to, for poison frogs, what they choose to eat could be a matter of life and death. Poison frogs are famously known for the brilliant colours and striking patterns that bring attention to themselves (Figure 1)—but attention seekers they are not. Instead, they are engaged in a complex advertisement scheme, aimed to warn predators that they might want to eat something else. You see, poison frogs are chock-full of bitter-tasting alkaloids, which most predators find distasteful and many pathogens find hard to live with. Interestingly, these defensive chemicals don't just come from anywhere—instead, poison frogs choose to eat food items that are loaded with them, and then, like kleptomaniacs, they steal them for themselves! Where they get their alkaloids and how they use them in defence, all without poisoning themselves, is a fascinating story that is beginning to unfold from decades of research on the chemistry, ecology and molecular biology of these charismatic tropical frogs.
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Feature| December 02 2019
For poison frogs, bitter is better
Biochem (Lond) (2019) 41 (6): 16–20.
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Olivia L. Brooks, Ralph A. Saporito; For poison frogs, bitter is better. Biochem (Lond) 2 December 2019; 41 (6): 16–20. doi: https://doi.org/10.1042/BIO04106016
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