Microbial adaptation to venom is common in snakes and spiders

Elham Esmaeilishirazifard, L. Usher, C. Trim, H. Denise, Vartul Sangal, G.H. Tyson, A. Barlow, K.F. Redway, J.D. Taylor, Myrto Kremyda-Vlachou, S. Davies, T. D. Loftus, M.M.G. Lock, K. Wright, A. Dalby, L.A.S. Snyder, W. Wuster, S. Trim, Sterghios Moschos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Animal venoms are considered sterile sources of antimicrobial compounds with strong membrane disrupting activity against multi-drug resistant bacteria. However, bite wound infections are common in developing nations. Investigating the oral and venom microbiome of five snake and two spider species, we evidence viable microorganisms potentially unique to venom for black-necked spitting cobras (Naja nigricollis). Among these are two venom-resistant novel sequence types of Enterococcus faecalis; the genome sequence data of these isolates feature an additional 45 genes, nearly half of which improve membrane integrity. Our findings challenge the dogma of venom sterility and indicate an increased primary infection risk in the clinical management of venomous animal bite wounds.One Sentence Summary Independent bacterial colonization of cobra venom drives acquisition of genes antagonistic to venom antimicrobial peptides.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMicrobiology spectrum
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 Apr 2022


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