The insecticidal potential of venom peptides

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2013 Oct;70(19):3665-93. doi: 10.1007/s00018-013-1315-3. Epub 2013 Mar 23.


Pest insect species are a burden to humans as they destroy crops and serve as vectors for a wide range of diseases including malaria and dengue. Chemical insecticides are currently the dominant approach for combating these pests. However, the de-registration of key classes of chemical insecticides due to their perceived ecological and human health risks in combination with the development of insecticide resistance in many pest insect populations has created an urgent need for improved methods of insect pest control. The venoms of arthropod predators such as spiders and scorpions are a promising source of novel insecticidal peptides that often have different modes of action to extant chemical insecticides. These peptides have been optimized via a prey-predator arms race spanning hundreds of millions of years to target specific types of insect ion channels and receptors. Here we review the current literature on insecticidal venom peptides, with a particular focus on their structural and pharmacological diversity, and discuss their potential for deployment as insecticides.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthropod Venoms / chemistry*
  • Arthropod Venoms / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Insect Control / methods
  • Insecta
  • Insecticides / pharmacology*
  • Peptides / pharmacology*


  • Arthropod Venoms
  • Insecticides
  • Peptides