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Snake venom tells tales about geography

Date:
July 15, 2008
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Just as people give away their origins by that southern drawl or New England twang, venomous snakes produce venom that differs distinctly from one geographic area to another, the first study of the "snake venomics" of one of the most common pit vipers in Latin America has found.

Scientists are reporting that venom of snakes, such as the Bothrops asper from Costa Rica, could differ based on geographical regions, an important finding in the production of antivenom.
Credit: Courtesy of Mahmood Sasa

Just as people give away their origins by that southern drawl or New England twang, venomous snakes produce venom that differs distinctly from one geographic area to another, the first study of the "snake venomics" of one of the most common pit vipers in Latin America has found.

In the new study, Juan J. Calvete and colleagues point out that researchers have known for decades that venom collected from snakes of the same species from different geographic locations can differ in terms of their biological effects and symptoms on snakebite victims. However, scientists know little about the chemical differences behind these geographically different venoms.

To find out, the scientists collected venom samples from adult and newborn specimens of the lancehead pitviper from two geographically isolated populations from the Caribbean and Pacific regions of Costa Rica. After a detailed laboratory analysis of the proteins found in the venom -- so-called "snake venomics" -- the researchers found major differences in the venoms collected from the two regions.

They also found distinct differences in proteins collected from newborns and adult snakes. The study "highlights the necessity of using pooled venoms as a statistically representative venom for antivenom production" for human snakebite victims, the report states.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alape-Giro%u0301n et al. Snake Venomics of the Lancehead Pitviper Bothrops asper: Geographic, Individual, and Ontogenetic Variations. Journal of Proteome Research, 2008; 0 (0): 0 DOI: 10.1021/pr800332p

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Snake venom tells tales about geography." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080714092718.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2008, July 15). Snake venom tells tales about geography. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080714092718.htm
American Chemical Society. "Snake venom tells tales about geography." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080714092718.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

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