Robert A. Harrison

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Venoms have evolved on numerous occasions throughout the animal kingdom. These 'biochemical weapon systems' typically function to facilitate, or protect the producing animal from, predation. Most venomous animals remain unstudied despite venoms providing model systems for investigating predator-prey interactions, molecular evolution, functional convergence,(More)
Snakes are limbless predators, and many species use venom to help overpower relatively large, agile prey. Snake venoms are complex protein mixtures encoded by several multilocus gene families that function synergistically to cause incapacitation. To examine venom evolution, we sequenced and interrogated the genome of a venomous snake, the king cobra(More)
Venom variation occurs at all taxonomical levels and can impact significantly upon the clinical manifestations and efficacy of antivenom therapy following snakebite. Variation in snake venom composition is thought to be subject to strong natural selection as a result of adaptation towards specific diets. Members of the medically important genus Echis(More)
The processes that drive the evolution of snake venom variability, particularly the role of diet, have been a topic of intense recent research interest. Here, we test whether extensive variation in venom composition in the medically important viper genus Echis is associated with shifts in diet. Examination of stomach and hindgut contents revealed extreme(More)
Variation in venom composition is a ubiquitous phenomenon in snakes and occurs both interspecifically and intraspecifically. Venom variation can have severe outcomes for snakebite victims by rendering the specific antibodies found in antivenoms ineffective against heterologous toxins found in different venoms. The rapid evolutionary expansion of different(More)
C57BL/6 and Balb/c mice were immunized with ultraviolet-irradiated cercariae of Egyptian strains of Schistosoma mansoni and S. haematobium, challenged with nonirradiated cercariae of the homologous or heterologous species, and assayed for protection against challenge infection by comparing the adult worm burdens of immunized and non-immunized mice.(More)
BACKGROUND Most epidemiological and clinical reports on snake envenoming focus on a single country and describe rural communities as being at greatest risk. Reports linking snakebite vulnerability to socioeconomic status are usually limited to anecdotal statements. The few reports with a global perspective have identified the tropical regions of Asia and(More)
Gene duplication is a key mechanism for the adaptive evolution and neofunctionalization of gene families. Large multigene families often exhibit complex evolutionary histories as a result of frequent gene duplication acting in concordance with positive selection pressures. Alterations in the domain structure of genes, causing changes in the molecular(More)
Venom is a critical evolutionary innovation enabling venomous snakes to become successful limbless predators; it is therefore vital that venomous snakes possess a highly efficient venom production and delivery system to maintain their predatory arsenal. Here, we exploit the unusual stability of messenger RNA in venom to conduct, for the first time,(More)
BACKGROUND Snake venom is a potentially lethal and complex mixture of hundreds of functionally diverse proteins that are difficult to purify and hence difficult to characterize. These difficulties have inhibited the development of toxin-targeted therapy, and conventional antivenom is still generated from the sera of horses or sheep immunized with whole(More)