Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance



Kartik has been awarded a Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance Intermediate Fellowship!


The project, which would be pursued in collaboration with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, aims at utilising our understanding of venom evolution for the innovation of pan-India effective snakebite therapy.



This project provides the Evolutionary Venomics Lab a novel (and parallel) direction to reaching India's Next Generation Recombinant Antivenoms.

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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

+ Impact factors as in the year of publication


  • 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 (in Press). 

Impact Factor: 4.48

  • 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...

Kartik has joined the Editorial Board of PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Kartik has been awarded the INSA Medal for Young Scientists, 2020
Senji speaks at the International Toxin Talks about her work on the biogeographic venom variation in Indian cobra.

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

Kartik Sunagar © 2020

Evolutionary Venomics Lab
Centre for Ecological Sciences

Indian Institute of Science

Bangalore 560012