A Selection of Potential Animal Candidates for Health Research
Many Indonesian species from underexplored high biodiversity areas show specific traits and characteristics that make them interesting as potential bioresources of biological substances with e.g. anti-infective effects. In the long run, functional screening of these substances could lead to the development of new drugs such as urgently needed new antibiotics. Indobiosys provides information on groups of animals that are promising target groups for further health research in biotechnology, pharmacy, and medicine.
Arthropods (small animals like insects with an exoskeleton) and snails are not only interesting based on the chemicals they produce but also because they can easily be collected without damaging the ecosystem or bred in captivity, and are thus a sustainable resource. Other animals collected for Indobiosys such as bats, small mammals or fish might be interesting from a biological perspective and might produce some substances with pharmacological potential as well. However, their collection and maintenance is much more costly and less sustainable. For this reason, the focus on bugs and other creepy-crawlies might not be creepy at all but rather promising as future bioresources. For example in science & technology, rather recently a new field of biotechnology was established to develop useful applications of insects in the fields of medicine and industry, called insect or yellow biotechnology (see insekten-biotechnologie.de for more information).
Many insects are ideal candidates to take a closer look at their suspected ability to produce biologically active compounds: They are often extremely abundant with a high degree of niche diversification and adaptation (e.g. weevils, a type of beetle). Soil-dwelling insects for example have to be able to protect themselves from mould and high microbial diversity in the soil (e.g. many insect larvae). Others are known to produce chemical defenses against plants or other insects (e.g. ladybirds, leef beetles, true bugs, and parasitoid wasps).
Promising target taxa for Indobiosys can be found within these groups of insects: Coleoptera (beetles), Diptera (flies), Hemiptera (true bugs), Hymenoptera (sawflies, wasps, bees, and ants), and Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths).
Arthropods: Myriapods (“Many-Legged Ones”)
Many myriapods (millipedes, centipedes, and others) are soil-dwellers. There are several groups that produce venoms with bioactive substances.
Promising target taxa for Indobiosys can be found within these groups of myriapods: Diplopoda (millipedes) and Chilopoda (centipedes).
Spiders are known for their ability to produce venom. Like other arthropods they are likely to produce pharmaceutically active compounds.
Snail slime (mucus) contains anti-infective substances and is commonly used in Asia as a traditional medicine, and several marine snails are known to be poisonous (e.g. cone snails). For Indobiosys, specifically land snails are interesting as they have to protect themselves from fungal infections.