An Approach to Reveal the Possible Underlying Mechanisms Inherent to Oecophylla smaragdina as a Biocontrol Agent

  • Priya DasEmail author
  • Achuthsankar S. Nair
  • Pawan K. Dhar
  • Oommen V. Oommen
Research Article


Oecophylla smaragdina, a biological pest control agent attacks its prey with their mandibles followed by ejection of venom; rendering them paralyzed. Even though Oecophylla smaragdina is a successful pest control agent, no attempts have been made to outline its molecular mechanism of action hitherto. The first part of this study intends characterization of venom constituents using preliminary methods followed by coupled gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy (GC–MS) analysis. The results indicate the anticipated presence of neurotoxin in ant venom (2,5-dipropyl-decahydroquinoline). This alkaloid is a known non-competitive inhibitor of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), but the proper mechanism of inhibition by decahydroquinoline was obscure and has been addressed in this study. Based on the results and known facts, the second part of this study deals with in silico docking and molecular dynamics simulations to portray the molecular level inhibition of nAChRs by decahydroquinolines. Molecular docking and dynamics studies indicate that the inhibition of nAChRs by decahydroquinoline is attained by occluding the pore lumen of nAChRs in the serine–leucine ring. The GC–MS analysis followed by in silico studies thereby indicates that the potent non-competitive inhibitor of nAChRs found in the venom of Oecophylla must be posing paralyzing effects on its prey.


Oecophylla smaragdina Non-competitive inhibition of nAChRs 2,5 dipropyl decahydroquinoline Molecular dynamics Biopest control agent Biological control 



Financial support from DST-INSPIRE is greatly acknowledged. The authors are grateful to Dr. P.R. Sudhakaran for his keen advices in this investigation.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest for publishing this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© The National Academy of Sciences, India 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computational Biology and BioinformaticsUniversity of KeralaThiruvananthapuramIndia
  2. 2.Centre for Systems and Synthetic BiologyUniversity of KeralaThiruvananthapuramIndia
  3. 3.School of BiotechnologyJawaharlal Nehru UniversityNew DelhiIndia
  4. 4.Kerala State Biodiversity BoardThiruvananthapuramIndia

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