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Toxins are poisons produced by organisms. The term was first coined by the organic chemist Ludwig Brieger. These substances are usually proteins that interfere with other macromolecules in organisms, such as ricin. A substance produced by an organism that can cause animal poisoning in a very small amount. Toxins often differ from other chemicals in their methods of production-the term “toxin” does not specify the method of transport (compared to venom and the wider range of poisons-all substances that may also interfere with organisms). This simply means that it is a biological poison. Toxins vary widely in severity, from generally mild acute (such as bee stings) to almost immediately fatal (such as botulinum toxin).

The seven deadliest chemicals (to humans) are:

Five of the seven deadliest compounds known come from nature. Toxins can be divided into exotoxins (toxins excreted by organisms, such as toad toxins) or endotoxins (toxins that are structurally part of bacteria, such as botulinum toxin).

  1. Botulinum toxin A (from Clostridium botulinum).
  2. Tetanus toxin A (from Clostridium tetanus).
  3. Diphtheria toxin (from Corynebacterium diphtheria).
  4. Dioxin (manufacture).
  5. Muskie (derived from mushrooms and gooses).
  6. Toad toxin (derived from toads).
  7. Sarin (manufactured)

The function of the toxin

1. Toxins in nature have two main functions:

  1. Prey--kills potential foods (such as spiders, wasps, jellyfish and sea anemones).
  2. Defense--prevents predators (for example, bees, ants and monarch butterflies, and plants such as broccoli produce a toxin to prevent insects from eating them).

2. Neurotoxins mainly affect the nervous system of animals. Organisms with neurotoxins include:

  1. Black Widows and other Widow spiders.
  2. Most scorpions.
  3. Cubic jellyfish (box jellyfish).
  4. Cobra (Elapid snakes).
  5. Conus (Cone Snail)

1. Leidreiter, F., Roderer, D., Meusch, D., Gatsogiannis, C., Benz, R., & Raunser, S. (2019). Conserved architecture of Tc toxins from human and insect pathogenic bacteria. bioRxiv, 596536.
2. Karoor, S. (2019). U.S. Patent Application No. 10/272,189.

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