On October 4th, OIST and Okinawa Prefectural Public Health and Environment Institute made an announcement that they have analyzed genome of habu venom for the first time in the world. According to their discovery, not only strong components of habu venom, but also weak components of habu venom have been evolved through generations, based on coinciding functions, so-called, “genetic drift.”
Habu venom includes several chemical components such as making the pray’s blood pressure abnormal or clogging blood vessels, ensuring that any pray can be brought down even if one component in the venom does not work.
Darwin’s natural selection theory itself does not explain the genetic inheritance of habu’s weak venom. Meanwhile, there has been a hypothesis that the weak component of habu venom happen to be surviving based upon genetic drift since habu venom is strong as a whole, and this hypothesis was proven in the research this time.
The genome analysis was conducted on Taiwan habu and Sakishima habu. OIST Associate Professor, Dr. Alexandar Mikheyev, the principal author of the paper, commented, “We have successfully established a method to analyze venom in a comprehensive manner. Now there will be a lot more discoveries.” According to Dr. Mikheyev, their findings could be utilized for the treatment of habu victims.
The paper has been covered on the on-line journal, Genome Biology and Evolution.