Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genome for the king cobra sequenced

Date:
December 3, 2013
Source:
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Summary:
Biologists who have recently sequenced the genome of the king cobra, say that their work reveals dynamic evolution and adaptation in the snake venom system, which seemingly occurs in response to an evolutionary arms race between venomous snakes and their prey.

King cobra, Ophiophagus hannah.
Credit: mgkuijpers / Fotolia

Researchers from LSTM, along with a team of international biologists who have recently sequenced the genome of the king cobra, say that their work reveals dynamic evolution and adaptation in the snake venom system, which seemingly occurs in response to an evolutionary arms race between venomous snakes and their prey.

A paper co-lead by Dr Nicholas Casewell, a NERC research Fellow at LSTM, and 34 co-authors from six countries, including the Director of the Alistair Reid Venom Unit at LSTM, Dr Robert Harrison, has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Members of this team also analysed the genome of the Burmese python (Python molurus bivittatus) and used it for comparison with the king cobra (Ophiophagus Hannah). These papers represent the first complete and annotated snake genomes.

Snake venoms are complex protein mixtures encoded by several gene families and these proteins function synergistically to cause rapid paralysis or death in prey. The study provides an insight into the biology of the venom in snakes, and allows the understanding of the evolution of venom genes at the genome structural level. Armed with the both the king cobra and Burmese python genome the team was able to show that, despite previous hypotheses that venom genes evolve "early" in the lineage leading to snakes, venom gene families do not duplicate early, in fact the study shows that the rapid and extensive expansion of functionally important venom toxin families is restricted to the venomous "advanced" snake lineage.

The diversification of these toxins correlates directly with their functional importance in prey capture, for example the most pathogenic king cobra toxin family have undergone massive expansion, while, in contrast, venom proteins with less important functions do not participate in the evolutionary arms race occurring between snakes and their prey.

Dr Nicholas Casewell said: "These are the first snake genomes to be sequenced and fully annotated and our results in relation to the king cobra provide a unique view of the origin and evolution of snake venom, including revealing multiple genome-level adaptive responses to natural selection in this complex biological weapon system. These adaptations include the massive and rapid expansion of gene families that produce venom toxins, providing the snake with a highly toxic protein mixture required to overcome a variety of different prey and also circumvent any resistance to venom that may have developed in such prey. Our study provides unique genome-wide perspectives on the adaptive evolution of venom systems as well as protein evolution in general. As such it contributes an essential foundation for understanding and comparing evolutionary genomic processes in venomous organisms."

The work carried out by Dr Casewell and his co-authors was used in the second paper outlining the analysis of the genome of the Burmese python, also published in the same edition of PNAS.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. F. J. Vonk, N. R. Casewell, C. V. Henkel, A. M. Heimberg, H. J. Jansen, R. J. R. McCleary, H. M. E. Kerkkamp, R. A. Vos, I. Guerreiro, J. J. Calvete, W. Wuster, A. E. Woods, J. M. Logan, R. A. Harrison, T. A. Castoe, A. P. J. de Koning, D. D. Pollock, M. Yandell, D. Calderon, C. Renjifo, R. B. Currier, D. Salgado, D. Pla, L. Sanz, A. S. Hyder, J. M. C. Ribeiro, J. W. Arntzen, G. E. E. J. M. van den Thillart, M. Boetzer, W. Pirovano, R. P. Dirks, H. P. Spaink, D. Duboule, E. McGlinn, R. M. Kini, M. K. Richardson. The king cobra genome reveals dynamic gene evolution and adaptation in the snake venom system. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1314702110
  2. T. A. Castoe, A. P. J. de Koning, K. T. Hall, D. C. Card, D. R. Schield, M. K. Fujita, R. P. Ruggiero, J. F. Degner, J. M. Daza, W. Gu, J. Reyes-Velasco, K. J. Shaney, J. M. Castoe, S. E. Fox, A. W. Poole, D. Polanco, J. Dobry, M. W. Vandewege, Q. Li, R. K. Schott, A. Kapusta, P. Minx, C. Feschotte, P. Uetz, D. A. Ray, F. G. Hoffmann, R. Bogden, E. N. Smith, B. S. W. Chang, F. J. Vonk, N. R. Casewell, C. V. Henkel, M. K. Richardson, S. P. Mackessy, A. M. Bronikowsi, M. Yandell, W. C. Warren, S. M. Secor, D. D. Pollock. The Burmese python genome reveals the molecular basis for extreme adaptation in snakes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1314475110

Cite This Page:

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. "Genome for the king cobra sequenced." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131203090701.htm>.
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. (2013, December 3). Genome for the king cobra sequenced. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131203090701.htm
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. "Genome for the king cobra sequenced." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131203090701.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

Reuters - US Online Video (July 21, 2014) An endangered black rhino baby is the newest resident at the San Diego Zoo. Sasha Salama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins