An 8-legged Bite: The Evolution of Venom in Spiders and Beyond (Ep 48)


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By Art Woods and Marty Martin, Art Woods, and Marty Martin. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

How did the Brown Recluse get its powerful bite? How widespread is venom across the tree of life? How do spiders use their venoms?

On this episode of Big Biology, we talk with spider venom expert Greta Binford (@gretabinford), a Biology Professor and Biology Department Chair at Lewis & Clark University. Her lab explores the vast chemical richness of spider venom and how those venoms have evolved. We talked with Greta about the function of venom, how it’s evolved throughout the tree of life, and the surprising role horizontal gene transfer--the idea that genes can jump sideways from one species into another--may have played in the origins of spider venom. Also, we get her candid thoughts on some cult spider horror flicks. We also cover her 2018 paper on venom protein evolution, which you can find here

Podcast art: Rosa Pineda

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