Comparative studies of the venom of a new Taipan species, Oxyuranus temporalis, with other members of its genus

Carmel M Barber, Frank Madaras, Richard K Turnbull, Terry Morley, Nathan Dunstan, Luke Allen, Tim Kuchel, Peter Mirtschin, Wayne Clarence Hodgson

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Taipans are highly venomous Australo-Papuan elapids. A new species of taipan, the Western Desert Taipan (Oxyuranus temporalis), has been discovered with two specimens housed in captivity at the Adelaide Zoo. This study is the first investigation of O. temporalis venom and seeks to characterise and compare the neurotoxicity, lethality and biochemical properties of O. temporalis venom with other taipan venoms. Analysis of O. temporalis venom using size-exclusion and reverse-phase HPLC indicated a markedly simplified profile compared to other taipan venoms. SDS-PAGE and agarose gel electrophoresis analysis also indicated a relatively simple composition. Murine LD50 studies showed that O. temporalis venom is less lethal than O. microlepidotus venom. Venoms were tested in vitro, using the chick biventer cervicis nerve-muscle preparation. Based on t90 values, O. temporalis venom is highly neurotoxic abolishing indirect twitches far more rapidly than other taipan venoms. O. temporalis venom also abolished responses to exogenous acetylcholine and carbachol, indicating the presence of postsynaptic neurotoxins. Prior administration of CSL Taipan antivenom (CSL Limited) neutralised the inhibitory effects of all taipan venoms. The results of this study suggest that the venom of the O. temporalis is highly neurotoxic in vitro and may contain procoagulant toxins, making this snake potentially dangerous to humans.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1979 - 1995
Number of pages17
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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