Small but deadly: The chemical warfare of sea slugs—20 January 2016

New research, partly supported by ARC funding, has found that brightly coloured sea slugs are slurping deadly chemicals and stockpiling the most toxic compounds for use on their enemies.

While the phenomenon sounds like the stuff of horror films, it is common practice for these “butterflies of the ocean”, a new University of Queensland-led study published today in PLOS One has found.

Dr Karen Cheney of UQ’s School of Biological Sciences said the multi-disciplinary study examined five closely-related nudibranchs (sea slugs) collected from the Great Barrier Reef and from South East Queensland, Australia.

One future research avenue would be to explore how these creatures were able to eat their prey and transport toxic chemicals without causing internal damage. 

Media issued by The University of Queensland.


Image: Sea slug Chromodoris annae.
Image courtesy: Deb Aston

Original Published Date: 
Wednesday, January 20, 2016