Special Issue "Drivers of Venom Potency across the Animal Kingdom"

A special issue of Toxins (ISSN 2072-6651). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Venoms".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 January 2022.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Kevin Healy
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Zoology Department, Ryan Institute, NUI Galway, Ireland

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Venom potency has long been a topic of interest to researchers from a wide range of fields. One driver of this interest is the diversity of organisms that have evolved venom, and with it, the wide variation in venom compositions that makes venom both a rich source of biodiscovery and a global public health issue. However, while varied, venoms have typically evolved to perform similar functional roles in predation and defence across phylogenetically distinct groups. Such convergent evolution highlights the potential that similar factors may drive certain aspects of venom function, such as potency.

The focus of this Special Issue is to explore the factors that determine the potency of venom across the span of the Animal Kingdom. This includes questions relating to genetic, molecular, evolutionary and ecological factors associated with venom potency. Submissions linking factors that apply across a wide taxonomic range will be particularly favoured, and I also strongly encourage submissions covering neglected areas and taxonomic groups. I look forward to editing an exciting collection of research and review articles that will help to stimulate interest in the fundamental drivers of venom potency across the diversity of venomous animals.

Dr. Kevin Healy
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Toxins is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Venom
  • Potency
  • Phylogenetic comparative biology
  • LD50
  • EC50
  • Evolution
  • Ecology
  • Mechanistic drivers of potency

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Article
Snake Venom Proteomics, Immunoreactivity and Toxicity Neutralization Studies for the Asiatic Mountain Pit Vipers, Ovophis convictus, Ovophis tonkinensis, and Hime Habu, Ovophis okinavensis
Toxins 2021, 13(8), 514; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13080514 - 23 Jul 2021
Viewed by 234
Abstract
Snakebite envenomation is a serious neglected tropical disease, and its management is often complicated by the diversity of snake venoms. In Asia, pit vipers of the Ovophis species complex are medically important venomous snakes whose venom properties have not been investigated in depth. [...] Read more.
Snakebite envenomation is a serious neglected tropical disease, and its management is often complicated by the diversity of snake venoms. In Asia, pit vipers of the Ovophis species complex are medically important venomous snakes whose venom properties have not been investigated in depth. This study characterized the venom proteomes of Ovophis convictus (West Malaysia), Ovophis tonkinensis (northern Vietnam, southern China), and Ovophis okinavensis (Okinawa, Japan) by applying liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, which detected a high abundance of snake venom serine proteases (SVSP, constituting 40–60% of total venom proteins), followed by phospholipases A2, snake venom metalloproteinases of mainly P-III class, L-amino acid oxidases, and toxins from other protein families which were less abundant. The venoms exhibited different procoagulant activities in human plasma, with potency decreasing from O. tonkinensis > O. okinavensis > O. convictus. The procoagulant nature of venom confirms that consumptive coagulopathy underlies the pathophysiology of Ovophis pit viper envenomation. The hetero-specific antivenoms Gloydius brevicaudus monovalent antivenom (GbMAV) and Trimeresurus albolabris monovalent antivenom (TaMAV) were immunoreactive toward the venoms, and cross-neutralized their procoagulant activities, albeit at variably limited efficacy. In the absence of species-specific antivenom, these hetero-specific antivenoms may be useful in treating coagulotoxic envenomation caused by the different snakes in their respective regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Drivers of Venom Potency across the Animal Kingdom)
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Communication
The Curious Case of the “Neurotoxic Skink”: Scientific Literature Points to the Absence of Venom in Scincidae
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 114; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020114 - 03 Feb 2021
Viewed by 1032
Abstract
In contrast to the clearly documented evolution of venom in many animal lineages, the origin of reptilian venom is highly debated. Historically, venom has been theorised to have evolved independently in snakes and lizards. However, some of the recent works have argued for [...] Read more.
In contrast to the clearly documented evolution of venom in many animal lineages, the origin of reptilian venom is highly debated. Historically, venom has been theorised to have evolved independently in snakes and lizards. However, some of the recent works have argued for the common origin of venom in “Toxicofera” reptiles, which include the order Serpentes (all snakes), and Anguimorpha and Iguania lizards. Nevertheless, in both these contrasting hypotheses, the lizards of the family Scincidae are considered to be harmless and devoid of toxic venoms. Interestingly, an unusual clinical case claiming neurotoxic envenoming by a scincid lizard was recently reported in Southern India. Considering its potentially significant medicolegal, conservation and evolutionary implications, we have summarised the scientific evidence that questions the validity of this clinical report. We argue that the symptoms documented in the patient are likely to have resulted from krait envenomation, which is far too frequent in these regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Drivers of Venom Potency across the Animal Kingdom)
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Article
A Wolf in Another Wolf’s Clothing: Post-Genomic Regulation Dictates Venom Profiles of Medically-Important Cryptic Kraits in India
Toxins 2021, 13(1), 69; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13010069 - 19 Jan 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1705
Abstract
The Common Krait (Bungarus caeruleus) shares a distribution range with many other ‘phenotypically-similar’ kraits across the Indian subcontinent. Despite several reports of fatal envenomings by other Bungarus species, commercial Indian antivenoms are only manufactured against B. caeruleus. It is, therefore, [...] Read more.
The Common Krait (Bungarus caeruleus) shares a distribution range with many other ‘phenotypically-similar’ kraits across the Indian subcontinent. Despite several reports of fatal envenomings by other Bungarus species, commercial Indian antivenoms are only manufactured against B. caeruleus. It is, therefore, imperative to understand the distribution of genetically distinct lineages of kraits, the compositional differences in their venoms, and the consequent impact of venom variation on the (pre)clinical effectiveness of antivenom therapy. To address this knowledge gap, we conducted phylogenetic and comparative venomics investigations of kraits in Southern and Western India. Phylogenetic reconstructions using mitochondrial markers revealed a new species of krait, Romulus’ krait (Bungarus romulusi sp. nov.), in Southern India. Additionally, we found that kraits with 17 mid-body dorsal scale rows in Western India do not represent a subspecies of the Sind Krait (B. sindanus walli) as previously believed, but are genetically very similar to B. sindanus in Pakistan. Furthermore, venom proteomics and comparative transcriptomics revealed completely contrasting venom profiles. While the venom gland transcriptomes of all three species were highly similar, venom proteomes and toxicity profiles differed significantly, suggesting the prominent role of post-genomic regulatory mechanisms in shaping the venoms of these cryptic kraits. In vitro venom recognition and in vivo neutralisation experiments revealed a strong negative impact of venom variability on the preclinical performance of commercial antivenoms. While the venom of B. caeruleus was neutralised as per the manufacturer’s claim, performance against the venoms of B. sindanus and B. romulusi was poor, highlighting the need for regionally-effective antivenoms in India. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Drivers of Venom Potency across the Animal Kingdom)
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