Staff Profile of Dr Anita Malholtra

Anita Malholtra
+ 44 (0)1248 383735
School of Natural Sciences, 3rd floor, Environment Centre Wales, Bangor, Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2UW, UK



My research interests focus on the role of natural selection in population adaptation and divergence, to which I apply a wide range of methods including multivariate morphometrics, statistical hypothesis-testing, innovative field experiments and genome analysis. I have two main areas of research on disparate organisms in different geographical regions (Anolis lizards in the Caribbean and Asian pit vipers), which are unified by being essentially focussed on the interface between evolution and ecology, and with an emphasis on the integration of genetic and phenetic data. More recently, my research has moved into the field of ecological and evolutionary genomics to evaluate the evolution of genes affecting complex traits directly and relies on the availability of a well-supported and complete organismal phylogeny of Asian pitvipers generated by my students and myself. Drawing on numerous collaborations to bring together disparate strands of organismal biology and ecology, evolutionary theory, comparative genomics, bioinformatics and proteomics, I aim to develop an integrated picture of the evolution of snake venom components. Another strand to this research on venomous snakes involves snakebite mitigation, and I am currently involved in several projects in India on this topic.

I am also involved in research on the genetic health of honeybees, sparked off by personal involvement in beekeeping. I am also involved in projects on the genetic identification of British/Welsh native black bee, a locally adapted race of Apis mellifera mellifera, and an endangered taxon which is the focus of many initiatives to “recreate” its original characteristics. However, identification of “near-native” stocks mostly rely on morphometric methods, which may not be accurate enough for this purpose after many generations of admisxture with other subspecies and requires verification using molecular methods. With the aid of a genome sequence from a historical specimen of native bee developed during a period of study leave, a cost-effective tool for rapidly assaying the amount of native genomic contribution present in current stocks is part of a PhD studentship funded by the Drapers’ Trust (with Dr Paul Cross).




1998 BA (Hons): University of Oxford (Jesus College). 1st in Zoology (with supplementary Anthropology)

1992 PhD   University of Aberdeen, Department of Zoology. What causes geographic variation? A case study of Anolis  oculatusSupervised by Prof. R.S. Thorpe


Oct 2018 - present: Reader

Oct 2001 – Sep 2018: Senior Lecturer
Feb 1995 – Sep 2001: Lecturer in Ecology, Bangor  University.

Mar 1994 - Jan 1995: Postdoctoral Research Associate, School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor: Systematics and evolution of SE Asian vipers (funded by a Leverhulme Trust grant to Prof. R.S. Thorpe).

Oct 1991 - Feb 1994: Postdoctoral Research Associate (named), Department of Zoology, University of Aberdeen: Systematics and evolution of SE Asian vipers (funded by a Leverhulme Trust grant to Prof. R.S. Thorpe).

External Professional Activities

2016: Elected Fellow of the Zoological Society of London.

2014: Volume Editor (Evolution of Venomous Animals and their toxins),Handbook of Toxinology, Springer. 
2014: Joint Co-ordinator of the IUCN Viper Specialist group for East and South Asia. 
2012: Elected Fellow of the Society of Biology (now Royal Society of Biology).
2010: Scientific Board, 3rd Biology of the Vipers conference (Pisa, Italy). 
2004-2007: NERC Peer Review College Member
1994/95: Joint Organiser, Zoological Society of London Symposium "Venomous snakes: Evolution, ecology and snakebite".
1994: Elected Fellow of the Linnean Society of London


Recent and other Other Major Publications

Malhotra, A & Vasudevan, K. 2018. Can we solve the snakebite crisis in India?.

Malhotra, A, Creer, S, Harris, JB & Thorpe, RS 2015, 'The importance of being genomic: Non-coding and coding sequences suggest different models of toxin multi-gene family evolution' Toxicon, vol. 107, no. Part B, pp. 344-358. DOI: 10.1016/j.toxicon.2015.08.009

Mrinalini, M, Thorpe, RS, Creer, S, Lallias, DS, Dawnay, L, Stuart, BL & Malhotra, A 2015, 'Convergence of multiple markers and analysis methods defines the genetic distinctiveness of cryptic pitvipers' Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, vol. 92, pp. 266-279. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2015.06.001

Thorpe, RS, Barlow, A, Malhotra, A & Surget-Groba, Y 2015, 'Widespread parallel population adaptation to climate variation across a radiation: implications for adaptation to climate change' Molecular Ecology, vol. 24, no. 5, pp. 1019-1030. DOI: 10.1111/mec.13093

Malhotra A, Simon Creer, John B. Harris, Reto Stöcklin, Philippe Favreau, Roger S. Thorpe. 2013. Predicting function from sequence in a large multifunctional toxin family.  Toxicon, 72:113-25. Doi: 10.1016/j.toxicon.2013.06.019.
Böhm M., Collen B., Baillie J.E.M., Chanson J., Cox N., Hammerson G., Hoffmann M., Livingstone S.R. Ram M., Rhodin A.G.J., Stuart S.N., van Dijk P. P., Young B., Afuang L.E., Aghasyan A., Aguayo A.G., Aguilar C., Ajtic R., Akarsu F., Alencar L.R.V., Allison A., Ananjeva N., Anderson S., Andrén C., Ariano Sánchez D., Arredondo J.C., Auliya M., Austin C.C., Avci A., Baker P.J., Barreto-Lima A.F., Barrio-Amorós C.L., Basu D., Bates M.F., Batistella A., Bauer A., Bennett D., Böhme W., Broadley D., Brown R., Burgess J., Captain A., Carreira S., Castaneda M.R., Castro F., Catenazzi A., Cedeño-Vázquez J.R., Chapple D., Cheylan M., Cisneros-Heredia D.F., Cogalniceanu D., Cogger H., Corti C., Costa G.C., Couper P.J., Courtney T., Crnobrnja-Isailovic J., Crochet P.-A., Crother B., Cruz F., Daltry J., Daniels R.J.R., Das I., de Silva A., Diesmos A.C., Dirksen L., Doan T.M., Dodd K., Doody J.S., Dorcas M.E., Duarte de Barros Filho J., Egan V.T., El Mouden E.H., Embert D., Espinoza R.E., Fallabrino A., Feng X., Feng Z.-J., Fitzgerald L., Flores-Villela O., França  F.G.R., Frost D., Gadsden H., Gamble T., Ganesh S.R., Garcia M.A., García-Pérez J.E., Gatus J., Gaulke  M., Geniez P., Georges A., Gerlach J., Goldberg S., Gonzalez J.-C.T., Gower D.J., Grant T., Greenbaum E., Grieco C., Guo P., Hamilton A.M., Hammerson G., Hare K., Hedges B., Heideman N., Hilton-Taylor C., Hitchmough R., Hoffmann M., Hollingsworth  B., Hutchinson M., Ineich I., Iverson J., Jaksic  F.M., Jenkins R., Joger U., Jose  R., Kaska Y., Kaya U., Keogh J.S., Köhler G., Kuchling G., Kumlutaş Y., Kwet A., La Marca E., Lamar W., Lane A., Lardner B., Latta C., Latta G., Lau M., Lavin P., Lawson D., LeBreton M., Lehr E., Limpus D., Lipczynski  N., Livingstone S., Lobo A.S., López-Luna M.A., Luiselli L., Lukoschek V., Lundberg M., Lymberakis P., Macey R., Magnusson  W.E., Mahler D.L., Malhotra A., Mariaux J., Maritz B., Marques O.A.V., Márquez R., Martins M., Masterson G., Mateo J.A., Mathew R., Mathews N., Mayer G., McCranie J.R., Measey G.J., Mendoza-Quijano F., Menegon M., Métrailler S., Milton D.A., Montgomery C., Morato S.A.A., Mott T., Muñoz-Alonso A., Murphy J., Nguyen T.Q., Nilson G., Nogueira C., Nunez H., Orlov N., Ota H., Ottenwalder J., Papenfuss T., Pasachnik S., Passos P., Pauwels O.S.G., Pérez-Buitrago N., Pérez-Mellado V., Pianka E.R., Pleguezuelos J., Pollock C., Ponce-Campos P., Powell R., Pupin F., Quintero Díaz G.E., Radder R., Ramer J., Rasmussen A.R., Raxworthy C., Reynolds R., Richman N., Rico E.L., Riservato E., Rivas G., Rocha P.L.B., Rödel M.-O., Rodríguez Schettino L., Roosenburg W.M., Sadek R., Sanders K., Santos-Barrera G., Schleich H.H., Schmidt B.R., Schmitz A., Sharifi M., Shea G., Shi H., Shine R., Sindaco R., Slimani T., Somaweera R., Stafford P., Stuebing R., Sweet S., Sy E., Temple H., Tognielli M.F., Tolley K., Tolson P.J., Tuniyev B., Tuniyev S., Üzüm N., van Buurt G., Van Sluys M., Velasco A., Vences M., Veselý M., Vinke S., Vinke T., Vogel G., Vogrin M., Vogt R.C., Wearn O.R., Werner Y.L., Whiting M.J., Wiewandt T., Wilkinson J., Wilson B., Wren S., Zamin T., Zhou K., Zug G. (2013) The Conservation Status of the World’s Reptiles. Biological Conservation, 157, 372–385.
Malhotra, A., K. Dawson, P. Guo, R.S. Thorpe. 2011. Phylogenetic structure and species boundaries in the mountain pitviper Ovophis monticola (Serpentes: Viperidae: Crotalinae) in Asia. Mol. Phylogen. Evol., 59(2):444-57; doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2011.02.010.
Malhotra, A. Stuart BL, Mrinalini, Thorpe RS. 2011. Two New Species of Pitviper of the Genus Cryptelytrops Cope 1860 (Squamata: Viperidae: Crotalinae) from Southeast Asia.  Zootaxa, 2757: 1–23.
Guo, P. Liu Q., Li C., Chen X, Jiang K, Wang Y.Z., Malhotra, A. 2011. Molecular phylogeography of Jerdon’s pitviper (Protobothrops jerdonii): importance of the uplift of the Tibetan plateau. J. Biogeog., 38: 2326-2336.
Malhotra, A., S. Creer, C.E. Pook, R.S. Thorpe. 2010. Inclusion of nuclear intron sequence data helps to identify the Asian sister group of New World pitvipers. Mol. Phylogen. Evol., 54: 172–178.
Eales, J., R.S. Thorpe, and A. Malhotra. 2010. Colonisation history and genetic diversity: adaptive potential in early stage invasions. Mol. Ecol., 19: 2858–2869.
Dawson, K., R.S. Thorpe, and A. Malhotra. 2010. Estimating Genetic Variability in Non-Model Taxa: A General Procedure for Discriminating Sequence Errors from Actual Variation. PLoS ONE, 5(12): e15204.
Guo, P., A Malhotra, S Creer, CE Pook. 2009. An evaluation of the systematic value of skull morphology in the Trimeresurus radiation (Serpentes: Viperidae: Crotalinae) of Asian pitvipers. J. Zool. Syst. Evol. Res., 47: 378–384.
Guo, P., RC Jadin, A Malhotra, C Li. 2009. An investigation of the cranial evolution of Asian pitvipers (Serpentes: Crotalinae), with comments on the phylogenetic position of Peltopelor macrolepis. Acta Zoologica, doi:10.1111/j.1463-6395.2009.00413.x.
Guo P, A Malhotra, C Li, S Creer, CE Pook, T Wen. 2009. Systematics of the Protobothrops jerdonii complex (Serpentes, Viperidae, Crotalinae) inferred from morphometric data and molecular phylogeny. Herpetological J., 19: 85-96.
Guo P, A Malhotra, RS Thorpe, S Creer, CE Pook. 2009. Comments on the systematic status of specimens belonging to the genus Viridovipera (Serpentes: Viperidae: Crotalinae) from Sichuan and Yunnan provinces of southwestern China, with special reference to V. yunnanensis. Herpetological J., 19:151-162.

Eales, J., R.S. Thorpe, and A. Malhotra. 2008. Weak founder effect signal in a recent introduction of Caribbean Anolis. Mol Ecol. 17:1416-1426.

Sanders, K.L., A. Malhotra, and R.S. Thorpe. 2006. Molecular phylogenetic evidence for a Müllerian mimetic radiation in Asian green pitvipers. Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond., B., 273:1135-1141.

Creer, S., Pook, C.E., Malhotra, A., Thorpe, R.S. 2006. Optimal intron analyses in the Trimeresurus radiation of Asian pitvipers. . Syst. Biol., 55:57-72.

Thorpe, R.S., J.T. Reardon and A. Malhotra. 2005. Common garden and natural selection experiments support ecotypic differentiation in the Dominican anole (Anolis oculatus). Amer. Nat.,165: 495-504.

Creer, S., Malhotra, A., Stöcklin, R., Favreau, P., Thorpe, R.S., and W. –H. Chou. 2003. Hypervariability detected in intraspecific pitviper phospholipase A2 isoforms (PLA2), using matrix-assisted laser desorption time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS). J. Mol. Evol., 56:317-329.

Stenson A.G., A. Malhotra, and R.S. Thorpe. 2002. Population differentiation and nuclear gene flow in the Dominican anole (Anolis oculatus). Mol Ecol, 11:1679-1688.

Guebitz, T., R.S. Thorpe and A. Malhotra. 2000. Phylogeography and natural selection in the Tenerife gecko Tarentola delalandii: testing historical and adaptive hypotheses. Molecular Ecology 9: 1213-1221.

Malhotra, A. and R.S. Thorpe. 2000. The dynamics of natural selection and vicariance in the Dominican anole: patterns of within-island molecular and morphological divergence. Evolution 54: 245-258.

Thorpe, R.S. and A. Malhotra. 1996. Molecular and morphological evolution within small islands. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. Lond. B., 351: 815-822.

Thorpe, R.S., H. Black and A. Malhotra. 1996. Mantel tests on the DNA phylogeny of the Tenerife lacertid elucidate both historical causes and morphological adaptation. Syst. Biol., 45(3):335-343

Malhotra, A. and R.S. Thorpe. 1991. Experimental detection of rapid evolutionary response in natural lizard populations. Nature, 353:347-348.



The BITES Project (Bioinformatics and Information Technology to address Envenomation by Snakes):  

Snakebite was described as “the biggest public health crisis you have likely never heard of” by Kofi Annan, shortly before his death. The World Health Assembly recently adopted a landmark resolution calling for immediate and effective steps to address the snakebite crisis, following the addition of snakebite to their influential list of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in 2017. India has the largest estimated annual mortality from snakebite, with c. 50,000 deaths, and likely even more permanent disability caused by the bite among survivors. Both reduction in incidence of snakebite and reduction in mortality will have a significant economic and humanitarian impact. 

Resolving the taxonomy of venomous snakes is acknowledged as a key component in the development of a strategy for the improvement of the snakebite situation by the Global Snakebite Initiative. Most of the venomous snake species that occur in India, especially in the northeast, have at least part of their ranges, or close relatives, outside the political boundaries of India and include species for which the Bangor group have established world-leading expertise. 

We began a collaborative EU-funded project in 2013 with a number of Indian institutions, with the aim of improving antivenom formulation through identifying the mixture of clinically relevant species present in different regions, and evaluating the effectiveness of the current antivenom towards the venom of snakes from different regions. Although the original fundin has come to an end, we are continuing the project with various other sources of support. 

More information about this project can be found at