Associate Professor Volker Herzig is an ARC Future Fellow and his lab is focussed on the biodiscovery of novel arthropod venom components, particularly peptides, for potential applications in basic science, medicine and agriculture. Associate Professor Herzig has compiled the world's largest arachnid venoms collection (currently comprising 550 spider and 150 scorpion venoms) that is already used in a variety of collaborative projects spanning the following areas:
- Toxins as bioinsecticides or antiparasitic agents
- Toxins as therapeutics
- Toxins as tools
The main focus of his lab are bioinsecticides. The agricultural sector is plagued by many pests and parasites causing significant economic damage. Fortunately, some arthropod toxins are selective and potent modulators of ion channels and receptors in the insect nervous system, which aids in overcoming prey or fending off predators. By studying the interaction of arthropod toxins with their molecular targets, Associate Professor Herzig is hoping to discover novel and environmentally safe bioinsecticides and antiparasitic agents.
A future area of research that he will embark on at USC is to investigate how venom toxins modulate learning and memory in insects. This might not only lead to novel tools for controlling insect pests and parasites, but it could even provide a more general understanding of the molecular processes underlying learning and memory.
International Society on Toxinology (IST), Deutsche Arachnologische Gesellschaft (DeArGe)
2019: ARC Future Fellowship
Potential research projects for HDR and Honours students
- Engineering spider toxins for insect pest control
- Orally-active arachnid toxins against pest caterpillars
- Interactions of toxins with arthropod learning and memory
Lin King JV, Emrick JJ, Kelly MJS, Herzig V, King GF, Medzihradszky KF, Julius D (2019) A cell-penetrating scorpion toxin enables mode-specific modulation of TRPA1 and pain. Cell 178(6): 1362-1374.
Richards KL, Milligan C, Richardson RJ, Jancovski N, Grunnet M, Jacobson LH, Undheim EAB, Mobli M, Chow CY, Herzig V, Csoti A, Panyi G, Reid CA, King GF, Petrou S (2018) A selective NaV1.1 activator rescues Dravet Syndrome mice from seizures and premature death. PNAS 115(34) E8079
Walker AA, Mayhew M, Jin J, Herzig V, Undheim EAB, Sombke A, Merritt DJ, Fry BG, King GF (2018) The assassin bug Pristhesancus plagipennis (Hemiptera: Reduviidae) produces distinct predatory and defensive venoms. Nature Communications 9(1), 755-785
Osteen JD, Herzig V, Gilchrist J, Emrick JJ, Zhang C, Wang X, Castro J, Garcia-Caraballo S, Grundy L, Rychkov GY, Weyer AD, Dekan Z, Undheim EAB, Alewood P, Stucky CL, Brierley SM, Basbaum AI, Bosmans F, King GF, Julius D (2016) Selective spider toxins reveal a role for the NaV1.1 channel in mechanical pain. Nature 534, 494–499, doi:10.1038/nature17976
Herzig V1, Wood DLA1, Newell F, Chaumeil PA, Kaas Q, Binford GJ, Nicholson GM, Gorse D, King GF (2011) ArachnoServer 2.0, an updated online resource for spider toxin sequences and structures. Nucleic Acids Research 39, D653-657, doi: 10.1093/nar/GKQ1058.
Current research grants
Funding Body & A$ amount
|ARC Future Fellowship||A/Prof Volker Herzig||
|2020-2023||Project title: “Be(e) friendly venomous spiders! Novel biopesticides from arachnid venoms”|