Venomics study launched
Drs. Gordon W. Schuett, Warren Booth, and Chuck Smith, as well as student Alex Bentley of The Copperhead Institute, in collaboration with Dr. Wolfgang Wüster (School of Biological Sciences, Bangor University) and Dr. Nick Casewell (Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Alistair Reid Venom Research Unit) and Graduate Student Darren Storey (School of Biological Sciences, Bangor University), have recently begun a venomics research program centered on the study of copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) venom. Writes collaborator Darren Storey regarding one aspect of the research "This research project is intended to identify the venom composition of several Agkistrodon contortrix specimens including a parthenogenic dam and parthenogen, with the expectation of finding proteins from 11 families (Lomonte et al. 2014) with high concentrations of confirmed toxin proteins from six families including SVMPs, PLA2s, and Serine Proteases (Hargreaves et al. 2014)".
"The primary focus of this research is to compare the proteomics of the parthenogen with that of the dam in contrast to background population specimens in order to test the hypothesis that the venomics of the parthenogen will be a limited subset of that expressed in the mother with an absence of additional proteins, due to differential allele fixation for maternal alleles and the absence of paternal alleles".
Venom samples will be analysed by Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization-Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry, High Pressure Liquid Chromatography, and Two Dimensional Electrophoresis to segregate and identify venom components across a broad mass range.
Hargreaves AD, Swain MT, Logan DW and Mulley JF (2014) Testing the Toxicofera: comparative reptile transcriptomics casts doubt on the single, early evolution of the reptile venom system. Toxicon. 92: 140-156.
Lomonte B, Tsai W, Ureña-Diaz J, Sanz L, Mora-Obando D, Sánchez E, Fry B, Gutiérrez J, Gibbse H, Sovic M, & Calvete J. (2014). Venomics of NewWorld pit vipers: Genus-wide comparisons of venom proteomes across Agkistrodon. ScienceDirect. 96, 103-116.
Clockwise from top left, Dr. Wolfgang Wüster, student Alex Bentley, Dr. Nick Casewell, and student Darren Storey