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Toxins 2016, 8(11), 309; doi:10.3390/toxins8110309

Rapid Radiations and the Race to Redundancy: An Investigation of the Evolution of Australian Elapid Snake Venoms

1
Venom Evolution Lab, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia
2
HEJ Research Institute of Chemistry, International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi, Karachi 75270, Pakistan
3
Princess Alexandra Hospital, Translational Research Institute, University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia
4
School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia
5
Venom Supplies, Tanunda, South Australia 5352, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Nicholas R. Casewell
Received: 29 August 2016 / Revised: 17 October 2016 / Accepted: 17 October 2016 / Published: 26 October 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Abstract

Australia is the stronghold of the front-fanged venomous snake family Elapidae. The Australasian elapid snake radiation, which includes approximately 100 terrestrial species in Australia, as well as Melanesian species and all the world's true sea snakes, may be less than 12 million years old.. The incredible phenotypic and ecological diversity of the clade is matched by considerable diversity in venom composition. The clade’s evolutionary youth and dynamic evolution should make it of particular interest to toxinologists, however, the majority of species, which are small, typically inoffensive, and seldom encountered by non-herpetologists, have been almost completely neglected by researchers. The present study investigates the venom composition of 28 species proteomically, revealing several interesting trends in venom composition, and reports, for the first time in elapid snakes, the existence of an ontogenetic shift in the venom composition and activity of brown snakes (Pseudonaja sp.). Trends in venom composition are compared to the snakes’ feeding ecology and the paper concludes with an extended discussion of the selection pressures shaping the evolution of snake venom. View Full-Text
Keywords: venom; elapid; coagulation; proteomics; evolution; redundancy venom; elapid; coagulation; proteomics; evolution; redundancy
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Jackson, T.N.W.; Koludarov, I.; Ali, S.A.; Dobson, J.; Zdenek, C.N.; Dashevsky, D.; op den Brouw, B.; Masci, P.P.; Nouwens, A.; Josh, P.; Goldenberg, J.; Cipriani, V.; Hay, C.; Hendrikx, I.; Dunstan, N.; Allen, L.; Fry, B.G. Rapid Radiations and the Race to Redundancy: An Investigation of the Evolution of Australian Elapid Snake Venoms. Toxins 2016, 8, 309.

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