Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 86, Issue 7, pp 484–500 | Cite as

Scratching the Surface of an Itch: Molecular Evolution of Aculeata Venom Allergens

  • Kate Baumann
  • Daniel Dashevsky
  • Kartik Sunagar
  • Bryan FryEmail author
Original Article


Hymenopteran insects are infamous for their sting, and their ability to cause severe anaphylaxis and in some cases death. This allergic reaction is a result of allergens present in the venom. Hymenopterans have many common venom allergens, the most widespread of which include phospholipase A1, phospholipase A2, acid phosphatase, hyaluronidase, serine protease and antigen 5. While there have been studies that look at the phylogenetic histories of allergens within closely related species, to our knowledge, this is the first study using evolutionary analyses to compare across Hymenoptera the types of selection that are occurring on allergens. This research examined the publicly available sequences of six different groups of allergens and found that allergens had diverged and formed closely related clades which share greater sequence similarities. We also analysed the patterns of selection and found that they are predominately under the influence of negative selection.


Venom evolution Toxin Hymenoptera Allergen 



KB and DB were supported by University of Queensland PhD scholarships. This work was also supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) INSPIRE Faculty Award (DST/INSPIRE/04/2017/000071) to KS and the DBT-IISc Partnership Program.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kate Baumann
    • 1
  • Daniel Dashevsky
    • 1
  • Kartik Sunagar
    • 2
  • Bryan Fry
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Venom Evolution Lab, School of Biological SciencesUniversity of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia
  2. 2.Evolutionary Venomics Lab, Centre for Ecological SciencesIndian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia

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