Snake Venoms in Attack and Defence
Dr Wolfgang Wüster will talk on the contribution of selection for defence in shaping venom composition and the need for better natural history and functional data on how snakes use their venom
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ONLINE EVENING LECTURE 18.00–19:00 THURS, 4 MARCH 2021
Snakebites cause approximately 100,000 human fatalities every year worldwide. The treatment of snakebite is complicated by extreme variation in venom composition. Understanding the causes of this variation is therefore of the utmost importance. Snakes use their venoms as part of their interface with other organisms, in particular for foraging and defence. Multiple studies have supported the role of adaptation of venom to diet as a major driver of venom composition, but the role of selection for defence has been largely neglected.
Recent studies have started to elucidate the contribution of selection for defence in shaping venom composition, indicating a lack of generalised defensive function, but with some notable examples. Finally, Dr Wüster will highlight the need for better natural history and functional data on how snakes use their venom to better understand the evolution of this system.
Dr Wolfgang Wüster is Reader in Zoology (Molecular Ecology) at Bangor University. His research interests span a wide range of topics in evolution, systematics and ecology, using primarily snakes as a model system. Current and recent topics have included the evolution of venom composition and its selective drivers, the origin of snake venom systems, species delimitation in snake species complexes, the evolution of warning signals and mimicry systems, biogeography, phylogeography and ecology.
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