Evolution of defensive and predatory venom in cone snails (2017–2019)

Abstract:
We have discovered that cone snails possess a remarkable and unique ability to rapidly and reversibly switch between separate venoms in response to predatory or defensive stimuli, implying that these are separately evolved and regulated mechanisms. Based on this discovery, we hypothesised that defensive venoms, originally evolved in the proximal venom duct to protect against threats such as cephalopod and fish predation, have been repurposed in the proximal duct to allow predators to become prey, facilitating the switch from worm to mollusc and fish hunting. This project will determine the molecular and cellular origins and mechanisms regulating venom production and release to establish how defensive venoms evolved in cone snails.
Grant type:
ARC Discovery Projects
Researchers:
  • Professorial Research Fellow
    Institute for Molecular Bioscience
    Affiliate Professor
    School of Biomedical Sciences
    Faculty of Medicine
Funded by:
Australian Research Council