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Identification and phylogeny of Arabian snakes: Comparison of venom chromatographic profiles versus 16S rRNA gene sequences
- Abdulrahman Al Asmari, Rajamohammed Abbas Manthiri, Haseeb Ahmad Khan
- Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences 2014 v.21 pp. 436-441
- Bitis arietans, Echis, Naja, freeze drying, gel chromatography, mucus, nucleotide sequences, phylogeny, ribosomal RNA, snake bites, snake venoms, snakes
- Identification of snake species is important for various reasons including the emergency treatment of snake bite victims. We present a simple method for identification of six snake species using the gel filtration chromatographic profiles of their venoms. The venoms of Echis coloratus, Echis pyramidum, Cerastes gasperettii, Bitis arietans, Naja arabica, and Walterinnesia aegyptia were milked, lyophilized, diluted and centrifuged to separate the mucus from the venom. The clear supernatants were filtered and chromatographed on fast protein liquid chromatography (FPLC). We obtained the 16S rRNA gene sequences of the above species and performed phylogenetic analysis using the neighbor-joining method. The chromatograms of venoms from different snake species showed peculiar patterns based on the number and location of peaks. The dendrograms generated from similarity matrix based on the presence/absence of particular chromatographic peaks clearly differentiated Elapids from Viperids. Molecular cladistics using 16S rRNA gene sequences resulted in jumping clades while separating the members of these two families. These findings suggest that chromatographic profiles of snake venoms may provide a simple and reproducible chemical fingerprinting method for quick identification of snake species. However, the validation of this methodology requires further studies on large number of specimens from within and across species.