Biogeographical Venom Variation in the Indian Spectacled Cobra and Russell's Viper
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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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) unravelling 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.
Our research is funded by...