Microbial adaptation to venom is common in snakes and spiders

Esmaeilishirazifard, E., Usher, L., Trim, C., Denise, H., Sangal, V., Tyson, G.H., Barlow, A., Redway, K.F., Taylor, J.D., Kremyda-Vlachou, M., Loftus, T.D., Lock, M.M.G., Wright, K., Dalby, A., Snyder, L.A.S., Wuster, W., Trim, S. and Moschos, S.A. (2018) Microbial adaptation to venom is common in snakes and spiders. bioRxiv, (Unpublished)


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 novel sequence types of Enterococcus faecalis misidentified by commonly used clinical biochemistry procedures as Staphylococcus; the genome sequence data of venom-specific isolates feature an additional 45 genes, at least 11 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.

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