LAGUNA DESIGN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY LAGUNA DESIGN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Tetrodotoxin molecule. Computer model of a molecule of tetrodotoxin (TTX), a powerful neurotoxin. Atoms are represented as spheres and are colour-coded; carbon (grey), hydrogen (turquoise), oxygen (red) and nitrogen (blue). TTX poisons the nervous system by binding to sodium channels and blocking the transmission of nerve impulses. It is found in a number of marine animals including pufferfish, horseshoe crabs, the Australian blue-ringed octopus and some marine snails. The toxin is not produced by the animals themselves, but by symbiotic bacteria living within the animal's tissues. Less than one milligram of TTX is enough to kill an adult.
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