Analysis of intraspecific variation in venoms of Acanthophis antarcticus death adders from South Australia

Research Report

J Venom Res 
(2013), Vol 4, 13-20

Published online: 25 August 2013

Full Text (PDF ~1420kb) (HTML PMC3797638) (PubMed)

Volker Herzig 1,*, Maxie Kohler 2,3, Kai F Grund 2, Shane Reeve 4, A Ian Smith 4, Wayne C Hodgson 2

Institute for Molecular Biosciences, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Queensland 4072 Australia

Monash Venom Group (MVG), Department of Pharmacology, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia

Current address: Chemistry Department, University of Cologne, 50939 Cologne, Germany

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia

*Correspondence to: Volker Herzig, Email:, Tel: +61 7 3346 2018, Fax: +61 7 3346 2101

Received:  20 March 2013, Revised: 22 July 2013, Accepted:  22 July 2013

© Copyright The Authors


Intraspecific variation in venom composition and activity has been reported from a wide range of snakes. Geographical origin can be one cause for this variation and has recently been documented from Acanthophis antarcticus death adders sampled across four different Australian states. The present study examined whether a narrower sampling range of A. antarcticus from four collection sites within one Australian state (i.e. South Australia) would also exhibit variation in venom composition and/or activity. The present LC-MS results reveal marked differences in the venom composition from different collection sites. The most striking difference was the reduced venom complexity found in the only venom originating from a mallee scrub habitat in comparison to the venoms from coastal heath scrub habitats. Interestingly, the pharmacological activity of all venoms was found to be the same, independent of the collection site.

KEYWORDS: Death adder, Acanthophis antarcticus, venom, geographical and intraspecific variation, chick biventer cervicis nerve-muscle preparation