UWB Crest

The Thorpe Group

Venomous Snakes

The primary focus of the long-term collaborative work with Dr Anita Malhotra has been a molecular phylogenetic study and revision of the Old-World pitvipers Trimeresurus (and related groups). Nuclear intron analysis combined with multiple mtDNA genes and key morphological markers had resulted in a fundamental revision of the group and shown the existence of numerous cryptic species (Malhotra & Thorpe 2004,2005, Mol Phylo Evol;  Creer et al 2003 Mol Biol Evol;  Creer et al, in press Syst Biol, Creer et al in press Cladistics , Sanders et al 2004, J Evol Biol). The 2004 Joseph B Slowinksi Award for excellence in snake systematics was given to Si Creer as first author on our paper on introns (2003 MBE). This work has been funded first by the Leverhulme Trust and then by the Wellcome Trust, with subsidiary support from NERC.  A major collection of venom and tissue samples resulted from this work and currently Dr Malhotra is leading a study of phospholipase evolution (Funded by NERC).

Other Old-World snake projects included 1) a study of the cause of venom evolution using the Malayan Pit Viper (Daltry et al 1996 Nature) which shows natural selection for diet to be the primary factor in this case, and 2) a molecular phylogenetic revision of Russell’s viper which is in press (Thorpe et al).

I was involved in Dr Wuster’s [link to Dr Wuster] earlier work on a revision of Asian Cobras, and subsequently I have collaborated on his study of New World pitvipers, particularly Bothrops and Crotalis (Wuster et al 2005  Mol Ecol: Pook et al 2000 Mol Phylo Evol).