Cockroaches, locusts, and envenomating arthropods: a promising source of antimicrobials

Document Type: Review Article


Department of Biological Sciences, School of Science and Technology, Sunway University, Selangor, Malaysia


Objective(s): To present a brief overview of various natural sources of antimicrobials with the aim of highlighting invertebrates living in polluted environments as additional sources of antimicrobials.
Materials and Methods: A PubMed search using antibacterials, antimicrobials, invertebrates, and natural products as keywords was carried out. In addition, we consulted conference proceedings, original unpublished research undertaken in our laboratories, and discussions in specific forums.
Results: Representative of a stupefying 95% of the fauna, invertebrates are fascinating organisms which have evolved strategies to survive germ-infested environments, yet they have largely been ignored. Since invertebrates such as cockroaches inhabit hazardous environments which are rampant with pathogens, they must have developed defense mechanisms to circumvent infections. This is corroborated by the presence of antimicrobial molecules in the nervous systems and hemolymph of cockroaches. Antimicrobial compounds have also been unraveled from the nervous, adipose, and salivary glandular tissues of locusts. Interestingly, the venoms of arthropods including ants, scorpions, and spiders harbor toxins, but also possess multiple antimicrobials.
Conclusion: These findings have rekindled the hopes for newer and enhanced therapeutic agents derived from a plentiful and diverse resource to combat fatal infectious diseases. Such antimicrobials from unusual sources can potentially be translated into clinical practice, however intensive research is needed over the next several years to realize these expectations.


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