Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Molecular Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: June 15, 2004
Publication Date: January 1, 2005
Citation: Masler, E.P. 2005. Invertebrate neuropeptides. Encyclopedia of Molecular Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine. 2nd edition. ed. R. A. Meyers. 9:167-181.
Interpretive Summary: Plant-parasitic nematodes attack all crops of agricultural importance, causing over $10 billion in losses annually to U.S. farmers. A serious problem facing growers is the lack of acceptable nematicides. This makes the discovery of environmentally and economically sound control agents critical. One approach to discovery is the identification of natural targets in nematodes that can provide a biochemical basis for development of novel control agents. Since nematodes depend upon neuropeptides to control all life processes, neuropeptides are natural control targets. To expedite the identification of the most appropriate targets, this report describes a survey of neuropeptides in invertebrates, demonstrating that the enormous diversity of invertebrates can be exploited to determine those molecules that have analogs in plant-parasitic nematodes and will be useful for control. Such an approach can greatly accelerate the discovery of environmentally responsible agents for the management of plant-parasitic nematodes. This information will be used by researchers in the agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology industries who are developing safe, selective methods for nematode control.
Invertebrates present enormous diversity and occupy every ecological niche. They comprise microscopic worms and large squid, sedentary corals and migrating locusts. The 30 invertebrate phyla include animals with the relatively simple nerve net of the cnidarians and the complex central and peripheral nervous systems of insects and molluscs. Common to all invertebrates, regardless of size, habit or complexity, however, is a dependence upon neuropeptides for control of physiological processes. This feature is shared among all animals. Activities ranging from behavior and reproduction to energy metabolism and metamorphosis are under the control of one or more neuropeptides. The lower invertebrates appear to rely upon few families of neuropeptides that include large numbers of a variety of sequences, whereas higher invertebrates have many neuropeptide families with fewer numbers of different sequences within each family. In both cases, however, there is a complex neuropeptide biochemistry. Mechanisms of neuropeptide synthesis, secretion, action and catabolism are similar to those described for vertebrates, but useful differences exist. These differences facilitate studies of biochemical evolution and provide unique experimental systems. It was, in fact, work on insect metamorphosis early in the 20th century which led to the concept of neurosecretion. Research into invertebrate neuropeptides is as important to better understanding the life processes of animals in general as it is to discovery of environmentally responsible means to control pests.