Thanks a lot for entering my site. My name is Tim and I am a german biologist with a passion for what I like to call “chemical warfare in the animal kingdom”. I study venomous and poisonous animals, their evolution, ecology, diversity and most importantly their translational potential. I am a strikt believer of animal toxins being the key to solving some of humanities most pressing problems. I use my background in biochemistry, genetics and evolutionary biology to push the scientific frontiers in this fascinting branch of science further every day. Currently I am working on my PhD and in this context I focus on several questions regarding spider venom, but I am also involved in a plethora of toxin projects regarding amphibians and snakes.
This homepage aims to deliver all meaningful information about me and my research to everyone who shares my passion for the subject. Feel free to browse around on Evo-Tox and don´t hesitate to contact me at any time.
Resurrecting forgotten research on Salamandra toxins
In our recent review article, published in “The Science of Nature”, my collaborators and I have summarized the state of the art regarding the toxinology of true salamanders, genus Salamandra. Although the toxic secretions of this genus, were extensively studied in the early days of natural compound chemistry most of the obtained information was hidden to a broader scientific audience since it has almost exclusively been published in German language. Our article is meant to spread all necessary informations on Salamandra toxins to the respective researchers in the field and furthermore it identifies research priorities for future work. The paper has recently made the rounds on social media and was selected as the highlight article of the current issue of the journal. It has therefore been featured on Springer Animal Sciences.
Lüddecke, T., S. Schulz, S. Steinfartz, M. Vences (2018): A salamander’s toxic arsenal: review of skin poison diversity and function in true salamanders, genus Salamandra. The Science of Nature 105: 56.
Salamanders start toxin biosynthesis during metamorphosis
We have just published the next paper on fire salamanders, this time in the “Journal of Experimental Zoology”. In this study – which I co-authored- we applied a combined approach of transcriptomics, morphometrics and chemical analytics to determine the major developmental stages of fire salamanders during their transition from aquatic larvae to terrestrial salamanders. We show that the transformation of fire salamanders is divided in three discrete stages and that the biosynthesis of their toxins starts during the metamorphosis, right before the metamorphic climax. However, we further found that female fire salamanders might be able to transfer their toxins to newborn larvae in rare cases.
Sanchez, E., E. Küpfer, D.J. Goedbloed, A.W. Nolte, T. Lüddecke, S. Schulz, M. Vences, S. Steinfartz (2018): Morphological and transcriptomic analyses reveal three discrete primary stages of postembryonic development in the common fire salamander, Salamandra salamandra. Journal of Experimental Zoology B – Molecular and Developmental Evolution 330: 96-108.
A first look on the tarantula tree of life
After two years of work we finally published our first paper on tarantula evolution in “Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution”. Tarantulas, or scientifically speaking Theraphosidae, are amongst the largest and most famous spiders on earth. Unfortunatelly their taxonomy is still mostly founded on morphological data only so far and remains therefore highly controversial. In this study – of which I had the honour to be the lead author- we reconstructed the first molecular data based hypothesis on the evolution of tarantulas. We developed several new primers for future molecular studies on tarantula evolution and discuss the validity of several problematic lineages within this fascinating spider family.
Lüddecke, T., H. Krehenwinkel, G. Canning, F. Glaw, S. Longhorn, R. Tänzler, I. Wendt, M. Vences (2018): Discovering the silk road: Nuclear and mitochondrial sequence data resolve the phylogenetic relationships among theraphosid spider subfamilies. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 119: 63-70.