Comparative venomics research

Current understanding of venoms is based primarily on the study of snakes, spiders, scorpions and conesnails. Our venomics research is exploring the toxins produced by rarely studied venomous taxa, using the most advanced technology.

Remipede venom apparatus

Remipede venom apparatus © Bjoern von Reumont

Venomics research involves the use of cutting edge technologies and methodologies to address fundamental questions of animal venom composition, evolution and general biology.

Venomics incorporates a number of diverse fields of study such as molecular biology, molecular evolution, pharmacology and neurobiology.

Recent technological advances in the study of venom peptides and proteins and their transcripts (proteomics and transcriptomics) allow us to broaden the taxonomic foundation of venomics research.

Research aims

The specific goal of our research is to understand the composition, evolution and unique bioactivities of venoms in neglected taxa, principally:

  • centipedes
  • polychaete annelids such as bloodworms
  • remipede crustaceans (blind marine crustaceans)

Used in predation, defence and intraspecific competition, venoms have evolved convergently in many groups of animals.

Defining the particular mix of peptides and proteins, individually referred to as toxins, that make up a venom is the first step towards understanding a venom's biological roles and physiological effects. These can subsequently be tested with experiments using isolated venom fractions.

  • Sthenelais boa
    Evolution of polychaete venoms

    We are investigating venom in polychaetes, a poorly researched group, in order to understand convergent evolution of venoms.

Research leader

R Jenner
Dr Ronald Jenner

Head of Invertebrates Division focusing on comparative venomics of invertebrates, higher-level animal phylogeny and body plan evolution, and conceptual and methodological problems in systematics.

Project staff

Glossary

Venomics
Venomics is the interdisciplinary field of research dedicated to unraveling the biology, evolution, and potential applied uses (such as drug development) of venom components.

Bioactivity
Describes the effects of a substance on living matter.