Venom Evolution and toxin diversity – neglected taxa and methodological insights


First venoms of marine pancrustaceans (Remipedia)

In 2014 I described the first venomous crustacean, the remipede species Xibalbanus tulumensis based on morphological and transcriptomic data. In a recent publication (von Reumont etal. 2017) further insights into the venom diversity of remipedes are shown based on proteomic and transcriptomic data. Novel peptides and variants of dICKs (double cysteine inhibitor knot proteins), which are so far only known from spiders were identified. These results are the base for current and further extended research on rempiedes but also other crustacean species.

Venom evolution in dipterans

Since 2015 I work on fly venom evolution currently focusing on diversity of robber fly toxins. In a small working group I supervise my PhD student (Stephan Drukewitz) and other students on fly venomic projects funded by the DFG, the Natural History Museum London and the University of Leipzig. We apply the whole range of methods in venomics, see methodological aspects.

Venom diversity of marine polychaetes

One major result in the first study on the venom of the polychaete Glycera, a bloodworm revealed a highly complex toxin cocktail including several neurotoxins. The graphics on the right show such an animal (A) and the final part of its proboscis with the four jaws that grap the prey (B).

Methodological aspects in comparative venomics

Venomics fascinates me not only because venomous species simply evolved one of the most incredible evolutionary traits, toxins. One reason is that the work in venom evolution enables me to apply highly interwoven state of the art methods from different fields, such as functional morphology, transcriptomics, proteomics and genomics. I am interested to develop new strategies and working flows to utilize these tools, also in collaboration with other experts. All these aspects contribute to a more complete picture and also help to better understand venoms and their complex, convergent evolution.

Venom evolution in centipedes (collaborating)

In a collaboration with Ronald Jenner and Eivind Undheim I am also involved in research on centipede venom evolution.


Link to collaborators:

Ronald Jenner, Department of Life Science, Natural History Museum London, UK

Eivind Undheim, Advanced Imaging Center, University of Queensland, AUS

Sebastien Dutertre, (CNRS), Institut des Biomolécules Max Mousseron, University Montpellier, F

Alexander Blanke, Institute for Zoology, University of Cologne, D