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Venom Complexity in a Pitviper Produced by Facultative Parthenogenesis

Calvete, J, Casewell, Nicholas ORCID:, Hernández-Guzmán,, U, Quesada-Bernat, S, Sanz, L, Rokyta, D R, Storey, D, Albulescu, L O, Wuster, W, Smith, C F, Schuett, G W and Booth, W (2018) 'Venom Complexity in a Pitviper Produced by Facultative Parthenogenesis'. Scientific Reports, Vol 8, Issue 11539.

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Facultative parthenogenesis (FP) is asexual reproduction in plant and animal species that would otherwise reproduce sexually. This process in vertebrates typically results from automictic development (likely terminal fusion) and is phylogenetically widespread. In squamate reptiles and chondrichthyan fishes, FP has been reported to occur in nature and can result in the production of reproductively viable offspring; suggesting that it is of ecological and evolutionary significance. However, terminal fusion automixis is believed to result in near genome-wide reductions in heterozygosity; thus, FP seems likely to affect key phenotypic characters, yet this remains almost completely unstudied. Snake venom is a complex phenotypic character primarily used to subjugate prey and is thus tightly linked to individual fitness. Surprisingly, the composition and function of venom produced by a parthenogenetic pitviper exhibits a high degree of similarity to that of its mother and conspecifics from the same population. Therefore, the apparent loss of allelic diversity caused by FP appears unlikely to have a significant impact on the prey-capturing ability of this snake. Accordingly, the pitviper offspring produced by FP retained complex phenotypic characteristics associated with fitness. This result reinforces the potential ecological and evolutionary importance of FP and questions our understanding of the inheritance of venom-associated genes.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: QZ Pathology > Pathogenesis. Etiology > QZ 40 Pathogenesis. Etiology
QZ Pathology > Pathogenesis. Etiology > QZ 53 Pathogenesis. Age or sex factors
WD Disorders of Systemic, Metabolic or Environmental Origin, etc > Animal Poisons > WD 410 Reptiles
Faculty: Department: Biological Sciences > Department of Tropical Disease Biology
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Stacy Murtagh
Date Deposited: 01 Aug 2018 09:47
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2018 09:47


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