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Jessica Garb

Jessica Garb
Jessica E. GarbAssociate Professor

Research Interests

Evolutionary Biology & Genomics

Work in my laboratory is broadly aimed at understanding biological evolution, from the molecular level to species diversification. We specialize in spiders, one of the most species-rich animal groups, and our current projects largely concern the evolution of proteins that have enabled their proliferation. Spider silks are renowned for their impressive mechanical properties and exhibit tremendous functional variation within and across species. We are using genomic tools to characterize the polymer-like proteins that make up spider silks from a variety of species. Because these proteins are encoded by a gene family, phylogenetic analyses of spiders and the silk proteins they synthesize are used to trace the long and complex history of silk evolution. Another major project is focused on the evolution of venom from black widow spiders and their close relatives. We are determining the molecular composition of these venoms to investigate the origin and diversification of potent toxins that enable prey capture. Such evolutionary work facilitates the discovery of beneficial and hazardous toxins with biomedical significance.


  • Ph D: Environmental Science, Policy and Management, (2003), University of California Berkeley
  • MS: Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology, (1998), University of Hawaii Manoa
  • BS: Natural Resources, (1996), Cornell University

Selected Publications

  • Haney, R.A., Clarke, T.H., Gadgil, R., Fitzpatrick, R., Hayashi, C.Y., Ayoub, N.A., Garb, J.E. (2016). Effects of Gene Duplication, Positive Selection, and Shifts in Gene Expression on the Evolution of the Venom Gland Transcriptome in Widow Spiders. Genome biology and evolution, 8(1) 228–242.
  • Correa-Garhwal, S.M., Garb, J.E. (2014). Diverse Formulas for Spider Dragline Fibers Demonstrated by Molecular and Mechanical Characterization of Spitting Spider Silk. Biomacromolecules, 15(12) 4598-4605.
  • Haney, R., Ayoub, N., Clarke, T., Hayashi, C., Garb, J.E. (2014). Dramatic Expansion of the Black Widow Toxin Arsenal Uncovered by Multi-Tissue Transcriptomics and Venom Proteomics. BMC Genomics, 15 366.
  • Bhere, K.V., Haney, R.A., Ayoub, N.A., Garb, J.E. (2014). Gene Structure, Regulatory Control, and Evolution of Black Widow Venom Latrotoxins. FEBS letters, 588(21) 3891-3897.
  • Clarke, T., Garb, J.E., Hayashi, C., Haney, R., Lancaster, A., Corbett, S., Ayoub, N. (2014). Multi-Tissue Transcriptomics of the Black Widow Spider Reveals Expansions, Co-Options, and Functional Processes of the Silk Gland Gene Toolkit. BMC Genomics, 15 365.
  • McCowan, C., Garb, J.E. (2014). Recruitment and Diversification of an Ecdysozoan Family of Neuropeptide Hormones for Black Widow Spider Venom Expression. Gene, 536(2) 366-375.
  • Zobel-Thropp, P., Correa, S., Garb, J.E., Binford, G. (2014). Spit and Venom from Scytodes Spiders: A Diverse and Distinct Cocktail. Journal of Proteome Research, 13(2) 817-835.
  • Garb, J.E. (2014). Extraction of Venom and Venom Gland Microdissections from Spiders for Proteomic and Transcriptomic Analyses. Journal of Visualized Experiments, (93).
  • Garb, J.E. (2013). Spider Silk: An Ancient Biomaterial for 21st Century Research. Siri Scientific Press
  • Zobel-Thropp, P.A., Correa, S., Garb, J.E., Binford, G. (2012). A Survey of Venom from the Spitting Spider Scytodes Includes Novel Toxins. Toxicon, 60(2) 233.
  • Garb, J.E., Ayoub, N.A., Hayashi, C.Y. (2010). Untangling Spider Silk Evolution with Spidroin Terminal Domains. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 10(1).
  • Hayashi, C., Garb, J.E., Ayoub, N. (2008). Spider Silk Dragline Polynucleotides, Polypeptides and Methods of Use Thereof.
  • Ayoub, N.A., Garb, J.E., Tinghitella, R.M., Collin, M.A., Hayashi, C.Y. (2007). Blueprint for a High-Performance Biomaterial: Full-Length Spider Dragline Silk Genes. PLoS One, 2(6).
  • Garb, J.E., DiMauro, T., Lewis, R.V., Hayashi, C.Y. (2007). Expansion and Intragenic Homogenization of Spider Silk Genes Since the Triassic: Evidence from Mygalomorphae (Tarantulas and Their Kin) Spidroins. Molecular biology and evolution, 24(11) 2454-2464.
  • Garb, J.E., Gillespie, R.G. (2006). Island Hopping Across the Central Pacific: Mitochondrial DNA Detects Sequential Colonization of the Austral Islands by Crab Spiders (Araneae: Thomisidae). Journal of Biogeography, 33(2) 201-220.
  • Garb, J.E., DiMauro, T., Vo, V., Hayashi, C.Y. (2006). Silk Genes Support the Single Origin of Orb Webs. Science, 312(5781) 1762-1762.
  • Garb, J.E., Hayashi, C.Y. (2005). Modular Evolution of Egg Case Silk Genes Across Orb-Weaving Spider Superfamilies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 102(32) 11379-11384.
  • Garb, J.E., Gonzalez, A., Gillespie, R.G. (2004). The Black Widow Spider Genus Latrodectus (Araneae: Theridiidae): Phylogeny, Biogeography, and Invasion History. Molecular phylogenetics and evolution, 31(3) 1127-1142.