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One Size Fits All—Venomics of the Iberian Adder (Vipera seoanei, Lataste 1878) Reveals Low Levels of Venom Variation across Its Distributional Range

Avella, Ignazio; Damm, Maik; Freitas, Inês; Wüster, Wolfgang; Lucchini, Nahla; Zuazo, Óscar; Süssmuth, Roderich D.; Martínez-Freiría, Fernando

European vipers (genus Vipera) are medically important snakes displaying considerable venom variation, occurring at different levels in this group. The presence of intraspecific venom variation, however, remains understudied in several Vipera species. Vipera seoanei is a venomous snake endemic to the northern Iberian Peninsula and south-western France, presenting notable phenotypic variation and inhabiting several diverse habitats across its range. We analysed the venoms of 49 adult specimens of V. seoanei from 20 localities across the species’ Iberian distribution. We used a pool of all individual venoms to generate a V. seoanei venom reference proteome, produced SDS-PAGE profiles of all venom samples, and visualised patterns of variation using NMDS. By applying linear regression, we then assessed presence and nature of venom variation between localities, and investigated the effect of 14 predictors (biological, eco-geographic, genetic) on its occurrence. The venom comprised at least 12 different toxin families, of which five (i.e., PLA2, svSP, DI, snaclec, svMP) accounted for about 75% of the whole proteome. The comparative analyses of the SDS-PAGE venom profiles showed them to be remarkably similar across the sampled localities, suggesting low geographic variability. The regression analyses suggested significant effects of biological and habitat predictors on the little variation we detected across the analysed V. seoanei venoms. Other factors were also significantly associated with the presence/absence of individual bands in the SDS-PAGE profiles. The low levels of venom variability we detected within V. seoanei might be the result of a recent population expansion, or of processes other than directional positive selection.
Published in: Toxins, 10.3390/toxins15060371, MDPI