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Parental care and skin feeding in the caecilian Siphonops annulatus: an integrative approach

Grant number: 17/10488-1
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2019
Effective date (End): June 30, 2022
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology - Morphology of Recent Groups
Principal researcher:Carlos Alberto Gonçalves Silva Jared
Grantee:Pedro Luiz Mailho Fontana
Home Institution: Instituto Butantan. Secretaria da Saúde (São Paulo - Estado). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


Caecilians (order Gymnophiona) are apodan, serpentiform amphibians, distributed in most of the tropical regions of the planet. Due to the generally fossorial habit, the caecilians constitute the least known group of tetrapods in all biological aspects. As in other amphibians, their skin is rich in glands that secrete a variety of chemical substances that participate in several vital activities, such as cutaneous respiration, reproduction and defence against predators and microorganisms. The research group of the Cell Biology Laboratory of Instituto Butantan, participating of an international team, discovered a peculiar phenomenon related to parental care. This finding, published in 2006 (Nature, 440, 926-929), was considered by Marvalee Wake as "perhaps the most dramatic new discovery in caecilian biology." This article demonstrated that the young oviparous caecilians, during parental care, feed exclusively on the mother's skin. Although described more than a decade ago, the biology, morphology, biochemistry and molecular biology related to this phenomenon remain little elucidated. For example, it is possible that the composition of secretions and the morphology of the cutaneous glands change during parental care. It is also possible that the secretions contain molecules that are important for the nutrition and immunity of the young, similar to the breast milk in mammals. This project, therefore, aims at the study of the oviparous caecilian Siphonops annulatus as a model of parental care and skin feeding, using an interdisciplinary approach based on morphological, biochemical and molecular biology techniques.

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Scientific publications (6)
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
JARED, CARLOS; ALEXANDRE, CESAR; MAILHO-FONTANA, PEDRO LUIZ; PIMENTA, DANIEL CARVALHO; BRODIE, JR., EDMUND D.; ANTONIAZZI, MARTA MARIA. Toads prey upon scorpions and are resistant to their venom: A biological and ecological approach to scorpionism. Toxicon, v. 178, p. 4-7, . (18/03265-9, 17/10488-1)
MAILHO-FONTANA, PEDRO LUIZ; ANTONIAZZI, MARTA MARIA; ALEXANDRE, CESAR; PIMENTA, DANIEL CARVALHO; SCIANI, JULIANA MOZER; BRODIE, JR., EDMUND D.; JARED, CARLOS. Morphological Evidence for an Oral Venom System in Caecilian Amphibians. ISCIENCE, v. 23, n. 7, . (17/10488-1, 18/03265-9)
MAURICIO, BEATRIZ; MAILHO-FONTANA, PEDRO LUIZ; SATO, LUCIANA ALMEIDA; BARBOSA, FLAVIA FERREIRA; ASTRAY, RENATO MANCINI; KUPFER, ALEXANDER; BRODIE JR, EDMUND D.; JARED, CARLOS; ANTONIAZZI, MARTA MARIA. Morphology of the Cutaneous Poison and Mucous Glands in Amphibians with Particular Emphasis on Caecilians (Siphonops annulatus). TOXINS, v. 13, n. 11, . (17/10488-1, 18/03265-9)
JARED, CARLOS; LUIZ MAILHO-FONTANA, PEDRO; MARIA ANTONIAZZI, MARTA. Differences between poison and venom: An attempt at an integrative biological approach. ACTA ZOOLOGICA, v. 102, n. 4, p. 337-350, . (17/10488-1)
MAILHO-FONTANA, PEDRO LUIZ; JARED, CARLOS; ANTONIAZZI, MARTA MARIA; SCIANI, JULIANA MOZER; ARVALHO PIMENTA, DANIEL C.; STOKES, AMBER N.; GRANT, TARAN; BRODIE, III, EDMUND D.; BRODIE, JR., EDMUND D.. Variations in tetrodotoxin levels in populations of Taricha granulosa are expressed in the morphology of their cutaneous glands. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, v. 9, . (15/00999-3, 14/18703-0, 17/10488-1, 18/15425-0, 18/03265-9, 12/10000-5, 14/15334-4)
MAILHO-FONTANA, PEDRO LUIZ; TITON, BRAZ; ANTONIAZZI, MARTA MARIA; GOMES, FERNANDO RIBEIRO; JARED, CARLOS. kin and poison glands in toads (Rhinella) and their role in defence and water balanc. ACTA ZOOLOGICA, v. 103, n. 1, p. 112-128, . (17/10488-1, 14/15334-4, 10/16804-3)

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