• Strategy

Enzyme quickly metabolizes alcohol: European starling


sturnus_vulgaris.jpg / Andreas Trep.. / LicenseCC-by-sa - Attribution Share Alike

The metabolism of starlings breaks down alcohol quickly via an alcohol-splitting enzyme.

"Many birds that consume fermented fruit duly suffer from the after-effects of alcohol abuse. Starlings (Sturnis vulgaris), however, seem immune to them, remaining surprisingly sober. The secret behind this phenomenon was revealed during the late 1990s by researchers Dr. Ghassem Hakimi and Dr. Roland Prinzinger at Frankfurt University in Germany."

"They discovered that starlings were able to metabolize alcohol at an exceptional speed, due to the rate of activity of the alcohol-splitting enzyme alcoholdehydrogenase, which is 14 times greater in starlings than in humans. This means that the birds can indulge themselves on fermented fruit without getting drunk, since the alcohol is broken down quickly." (Shuker 2001:221)
About the inspiring organism
Med_common_starlingmindaugas_urbonas2 European Starling
Sturnus vulgaris Linnaeus, 1758
Common name: Common Starling

Habitat(s): Artificial - Aquatic, Artificial - Terrestrial, Forest, Grassland, Marine Intertidal, Shrubland
Learn more at EOL.org
Some organism data provided by: ITIS: The Integrated Taxonomic Information System
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Threat Categories LONG_LC IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Enzymatic treatments for alcohols used in soil remediation, treatments for alcoholism or alcohol poisoning.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Bioremediation, health

Institute for Ecology, Evolution, and Diversity
Roland Prinzinger
Johann Wolfgang Goethe — Universität Frankfurt/Main
Shuker, KPN. 2001. The Hidden Powers of Animals: Uncovering the Secrets of Nature. London: Marshall Editions Ltd. 240 p.
Learn More at Google Scholar Google Scholar  


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over 3 years ago
Is it possible for this enzyme to be created for human consumption to battle alcoholism ?
over 6 years ago
This comment was removed by a AskNature editor for the following reason:
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over 6 years ago
This backyard pest is brilliant! I haven't been able to find any diagrams of the specific mechanism for metabolizing. Any ideas?
over 6 years ago
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