Nettles & toxic toupees: the molecular weaponry of venomous caterpillars (2020–2023)

This project aims to investigate the structure, function and evolution of peptide toxins in venoms made by caterpillars in superfamily Zygaenoidea. Caterpillars in this group are covered in spines that inject pain-causing venoms, and this protects them from vertebrate and invertebrate predators. This project will test if peptides in this venom cause pain by pharmacological modulation of mammalian ion channels and signalling receptors, and if they have insecticidal properties. The first three-dimensional structures of caterpillar venom peptides will also be solved. Genomes of representatives of two different zygaenoid families will be produced, and genomic techniques will be used to elucidate how venom use evolved at the molecular level.
Grant type:
ARC Discovery Projects
  • Research Fellow
    Institute for Molecular Bioscience
    Research Fellow
    Institute for Molecular Bioscience
Funded by:
Australian Research Council