Spider-venom peptides: structure, pharmacology, and potential for control of insect pests

Annu Rev Entomol. 2013;58:475-96. doi: 10.1146/annurev-ento-120811-153650. Epub 2012 Sep 27.


Spider venoms are an incredibly rich source of disulfide-rich insecticidal peptides that have been tuned over millions of years to target a wide range of receptors and ion channels in the insect nervous system. These peptides can act individually, or as part of larger toxin cabals, to rapidly immobilize envenomated prey owing to their debilitating effects on nervous system function. Most of these peptides contain a unique arrangement of disulfide bonds that provides them with extreme resistance to proteases. As a result, these peptides are highly stable in the insect gut and hemolymph and many of them are orally active. Thus, spider-venom peptides can be used as stand-alone bioinsecticides, or transgenes encoding these peptides can be used to engineer insect-resistant crops or enhanced entomopathogens. We critically review the potential of spider-venom peptides to control insect pests and highlight their advantages and disadvantages compared with conventional chemical insecticides.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Insect Control / methods*
  • Insecta*
  • Insecticides / chemistry
  • Insecticides / pharmacology*
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Peptides / pharmacology
  • Spider Venoms / chemistry
  • Spider Venoms / pharmacology*
  • Spiders / chemistry*


  • Insecticides
  • Peptides
  • Spider Venoms