The emerging field of venom-microbiomics for exploring venom as a microenvironment, and the corresponding Initiative for Venom Associated Microbes and Parasites (iVAMP).Toxicon X. 2019 Oct; 4:100016.TX
Venom is a known source of novel antimicrobial natural products. The substantial, increasing number of these discoveries have unintentionally culminated in the misconception that venom and venom-producing glands are largely sterile environments. Culture-dependent and -independent studies on the microbial communities in venom microenvironments reveal the presence of archaea, algae, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses. Venom-centric microbiome studies are relatively sparse to date with the adaptive advantages that venom-associated microbes might offer to their hosts, or that hosts might provide to venom-associated microbes, remaining largely unknown. We highlight the potential for the discovery of venom microbiomes within the adaptive landscape of venom systems. The considerable number of convergently evolved venomous animals, juxtaposed with the comparatively few known studies to identify microbial communities in venom, provides new possibilities for both biodiversity and therapeutic discoveries. We present an evidence-based argument for integrating microbiology as part of venomics (i.e., venom-microbiomics) and introduce iVAMP, the Initiative for Venom Associated Microbes and Parasites (https://ivamp-consortium.github.io/), as a growing collaborative consortium. We express commitment to the diversity, inclusion and scientific collaboration among researchers interested in this emerging subdiscipline through expansion of the iVAMP consortium.