Staff profile

Dr Wolfgang Wüster



Location: ECW 3rd floor

Phone: 2301




Research interests

Dr Wolfgang Wüster has a wide-ranging research portfolio encompassing the origin and evolution of snake venoms, the systematics, ecology and evolutionary biology of snakes, and phylogeographic studies. Recent research highlights include:

(i) unravelling of the dynamic evolution of snake venom toxins through participation in the king cobra genome project and the analysis of toxin and non-toxin gene sequences. Noteworthy discoveries include the complex patterns of recruitment and reverse recruitment of toxin genes from ordinary physiological protein genes, the role of gene duplications in toxin evolution, and the mechanisms behind the evolution of medically important toxin families.

(ii) evidence for the effects of natural selection for different prey in determining the evolution of venom composition in snakes

(iii) highlighting hitherto unsuspected biogeographical and phylogeographical patterns in widespread African and Middle Eastern venomous snakes

(iv) the discovery of several cryptic species of venomous snakes.

Ongoing research focusses on the extrinsic and intrinsic factors shaping geographic patterns of variation in venom composition in snakes and their underlying genetic mechanisms, and the biogeography and systematics of multiple groups of venomous snakes . This research programme has been funded by the Leverhulme Trust, NERC and the Systematics Association.

Offices held



  • SBS Board of Studies