According to scientists, it is not excluded that, in the future, the saliva of humans and mice could become poisonous. Under certain environmental conditions, both mice and humans could become poisonous.
To hypothesize this very curious scenario is a team of scientists from the Graduate University of the Institute of Science and the Australian National University. The authors of the study, which appeared this week in the journal PNAS, identified a genetic basis necessary for the evolution of oral venom, present in both reptiles and mammals.
The research also provides the first concrete evidence of a molecular link between the venomous glands of snakes and the salivary glands of mammals. In the venomous glands of the Taiwanese habu snake, scientists have identified 3,000 of these “cooperative” genes and concluded that they play an important role in protecting cells from stress caused by the production of many proteins.
The researchers then examined the genomes of other creatures, including mammals, such as dogs, chimpanzees and humans, and found that they contained similar versions of these genes. By analyzing the tissues of the mammalian salivary glands, the research team found that the genes followed a similar pattern of activity to that observed in the venom glands of snakes, suggesting that these two types of glands shared an ‘ancient functional core’.