Figure 7. Summary.jpg

Biogeographical Venom Variation in the Indian Spectacled Cobra and Russell's Viper

Two new papers in PLOS NTD describe the impact of differing ecologies and environment on the composition and potency of Naja and Daboia venoms.

Using a multi-disciplinary approach (venom proteomics, biochemical and pharmacological analyses, and in vitro and in vivo research to comparatively analyse Naja and Daboia venoms across a broad region (>6000 km; seven populations) covering India’s six distinct biogeographical zones.


Our findings reveal alarming repercussions of venom variation on the efficiency of Indian antivenoms.

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What's new?


Check out our new paper on the venom of the Andaman cobra (Naja sagittifera) in Frontiers in Pharmacology.


Kartik has been awarded the Merck Young Scientist Award, 2021!

Senji has been awarded the Prime Minister's Research Fellows (PMRF) Fellowship!


Kartik delivers a talk on the ecological venomics of medically important Indian snakes at the International Society for Toxinology Asia-Pacific Conference, Cairns, Australia.

Do visit our YouTube Channel to know more about our research on venoms and snakebites

Here is a brief introduction to our lab and our research

In the Evolutionary Venomics Lab at the Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES), Indian Institute of Science (IISC), we investigate venomous animals and their venoms as model systems to address basic but broad questions in evolutionary biology and genetics. Using state-of-the-art technologies across multiple disciplines, we examine the fascinating evolutionary histories of the enigmatic lineages of venomous animals and their venoms.


A particular emphasis is placed on characterizing the composition, toxicity profiles and the evolutionary dynamics of venoms of the ‘big four’ snakes in India, as the lab will strive to deliver advanced antivenom with a commensurate improvement in safety, specificity, and affordability of treatment. The protein composition, and hence the pathogenic potential of venoms, can exhibit dramatic geographical variation, with different populations of the same species having starkly distinct venom profiles and, consequently, resulting in a significantly reduced antivenom efficiency. Therefore, the lab will unravel intra- and interspecific venom variability in medically significant Indian snakes and utilize this information for the molecular design of effective snakebite therapy.


The other broad aims of the lab include (a) investigating genomes, transcriptomes and proteomes of neglected venomous lineages (e.g., scorpions, spiders, centipedes, jellyfish, Hymenoptera, etc.) to understand the molecular basis of venom production, regulation, and evolutionary diversification; (b) understanding the genetic basis of venom resistance in the venomous animal and its prey/predators; (c) unraveling the evolutionary forces that have shaped the current distribution of venomous animals in the Indian subcontinent, and (d) investigating the therapeutic potential of venom proteins.


Selected Publications

( a complete list of publications can be found here)


* Joint first authors                                                             # corresponding author


  • Senji Laxme RR*, Attarde S*, Khochare S*, Suranse V, Iyer A, Martin G, Casewell NRC, Whitaker R, and Sunagar K#. Biogeographic venom variation in Russell’s viper (Daboia russelii) and the preclinical inefficacy of antivenom therapy in snakebite hotspots. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. 


Impact Factor: 4.48

  • Senji Laxme RR*, Attarde S*, Khochare S*, Suranse V, Martin G, Casewell NRC, Whitaker R, and Sunagar K#. Biogeographical venom variation in the Indian spectacled cobra (Naja naja) underscores the pressing need for pan-India efficacious snakebite therapy. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. 

Impact Factor: 4.48

Featured on the cover of the journal

  • Sunagar K#*, Khochare S*, Senji Laxme RR, Attarde S, Dam P, Suranse V, Khaire A, Martin G, and Captain A. 2021. A wolf in another wolf’s clothing: Post-genomic regulation dictates venom profiles of medically-important cryptic kraits in India. Toxins

Impact Factor: 3.531

  • Senji Laxme RR*, Khochare S*, DeSouza HF*, Ahuja B, Suranse V, Martin G, Whitaker R and Sunagar K#. 2019. Beyond the ‘big four’: Venom profiling of the medically important yet neglected Indian snakes reveals disturbing antivenom deficiencies. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. 13(12): e0007899.

Impact Factor: 4.48

Featured on the cover of the journal

  • Casewell NRC*, Jackson TMW*, Laustsen A*, and Sunagar K*. 2020. Causes and consequences of medically-important snake venom variation. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences. 0165-6147.

Impact Factor: 11.52

  • Sunagar K #, Moran Y. 2015. The Rise and Fall of an Evolutionary Innovation: Contrasting Strategies of Venom Evolution in Ancient and Young Animals. PLoS Genetics 11:e1005596.


Impact Factor: 7.21

The most cited PLoS Genetics publication in 2015

Amongst the top 10% of highly cited papers in the journal in the last 5 years


  • Ujvari B*, Casewell NR*, Sunagar K*, Arbuckle K, Wuster W, Lo N, O'Meally D, Beckmann C, King GF, Deplazes E, Madsen T. 2015. Widespread convergence in toxin resistance by predictable molecular evolution. Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences U S A 112:11911-11916.


Impact Factor: 10.44

Featured on the cover of the journal

  • Sunagar K, Johnson WE, O'Brien SJ, Vasconcelos V, Antunes A. 2012. Evolution of CRISPs associated with toxicoferan-reptilian venom and mammalian reproduction. Molecular Biology and Evolution 29:1807-1822.


Impact Factor: 15.21

  • Jouiaei M*, Sunagar K *, Federman Gross A, Scheib H, Alewood PF, Moran Y, Fry BG. 2015. Evolution of an ancient venom: recognition of a novel family of cnidarian toxins and the common evolutionary origin of sodium and potassium neurotoxins in sea anemone. Molecular Biology Evolution 32:1598-1610.


Impact Factor: 14.67


  • Sunagar K *, Undheim EA*, Scheib H*, Gren EC*, Cochran C, Person CE, Koludarov I, Kelln W, Hayes WK, King GF, Antunes A, Fry BG. 2014. Intraspecific venom variation in the medically significant Southern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus helleri): biodiscovery, clinical and evolutionary implications. Journal of Proteomics 99:68-83.

Impact Factor: 4.54

Our research is funded by...

DBT-IISc Partnership Program for Advanced Research in Biological Sciences and BioEngineering

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Our lab is supported by...