Is venom sterile or colonised by bacteria?

Our CSO, Steve Trim, spoke at the Bangor Herpetology seminar series, presenting our latest data on this very important topic. You can watch his presentation here. The antimicrobial properties of venom components have been recognised since the 1940’s, with many antimicrobial peptides having been discovered in venoms. The evolutionary understanding of their purpose was missing until recently but is now believed to have evolved in response to a venom microbiome. Evidence suggests that the venom gland is an internal evolutionary battleground between the microbiome and the host.

The key message of this presentation is that by exploring the drug-like characteristics of venom components, we can better understand their evolutionary origins.

Further reading

Microbial adaptation to venom is common in snakes and spiders (BioRxiv preprint)

The emerging field of venom-microbiomics for exploring venom as a microenvironment, and the corresponding Initiative for Venom Associated Microbes and Parasites (iVAMP), ToxiconX