Greta J. Binford, PhD


Dr. Binford uses integrative approaches to analyze venom evolution in spiders.  Uses conparative analyses framed around phylogenetic reconstruction to study patterns of diversity of spiders and their venoms,  her current research focuses on brown recluse and ther relatives (Loxosceles and Sicarius). These spiders have a toxin in their venom, sphingomyelinase D, that causes dermonecrotic lesions in mammals.  She has inferred that the ancestors of this lineage predate the Gondwanan separation of South America and Africa, meaning they are at least 95 million years old.  She is analyzing the distribution of sphingomyelinase D in venoms across this lineage and the molecular evolution of the gene family that encodes this toxin.  This knowledge helps us better understand the range of species related to the brown recluse that is capabale of causing lesions.  It also will facilitate development of treatments that will be effective across bites of all members of this group of spiders.

Department of Biology
Lewis and Clark College
Portland, Oregon, USA

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