Australia is notorious for its poisonous spiders, snakes and sea creatures, but researchers have now identified “scorpion-like” toxins secreted by a tree that can cause excruciating pain for weeks.
The split-second contact with the dendrocanoid tree, a rainforest nettle known by its indigenous name Gympie-Gympty, is a sting far more powerful than similar plants found in the US or Europe.
The tree, which has broad oval- or heart-shaped foliage, is found mainly in the rainforest areas of north-east Queensland, where it is notorious among hikers.
A team of Australian scientists says they now better understand why Gimpi-Gimpi’s sting preys on ominous people who brush against its leaves.
Victims report an initial sting that “fires at first, then hurts for hours to remind the affected body part of being caught at the door of a painful car”, researchers at the University of Queensland Said on Thursday.
In the final, exhaled stages, pain can be controlled by simply taking a shower.
Although the GIMPIT-GIMPIP is covered in fine needle-like hair like other nits, previous tests for common irritability such as histamine came up empty.
Irina Vetter, an associate professor at the University of Queensland Institute for Molecular Bioscience, said the research team discovered a new class of neurotoxin minipotronins, which they named ‘Gympitides’.
“Although they come from a plant, Gympicides are similar to spider and cone toxin, the way they transform into their 3D molecular structures and target the same pain receptors – making this Gympie-Gympipe tree actually ‘Toxic’ makes the plant., “She said.
Australia is already infamous for its poisonous creatures including snakes, box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopus and funnel-web spiders, although death in humans from bites or stings is rare.
The long-lasting pain can be explained by the tree, the waiter said, permanently altering the chemical make-up of sensory neurons affected by gympites – not due to fine hair getting trapped in the skin.
Scientists hope that their research, published in the peer-reviewed journal Sciences Advance, will eventually help better pain-relieving treatments for those who have been stung.
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