, Volume 50, Supplement 1, pp 75–79

Naja siamensis, a cryptic species of venomous snake revealed by mtDNA sequencing


  • W. Wüster
    • School of Biological SciencesUniversity College of North Wales
  • R. S. Thorpe
    • School of Biological SciencesUniversity College of North Wales
Research Articles

DOI: 10.1007/BF01992054

Cite this article as:
Wüster, W. & Thorpe, R.S. Experientia (1994) 50: 75. doi:10.1007/BF01992054


Because of possible variation in venom composition, an understanding of venomous snake systematics is of great importance for the optimization of antivenom treatment of snakebite patients. Intraspecific variation in the morphology of many venomous snakes complicates the definition and indentification of some species when allopatric populations are involved. Selectively neutral or near-neutral mtDNA sequences can reveal evolutionary relationships obscured by ecogenetically-caused morphological variation. We use comparative sequencing of the cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 gene to reveal the existence of a widespread, cryptic species of spiting cobra from southeast Asia. This species,Naja siamensis, is widely sympatric with other Asiatic cobra species. This may be of considerable medical significance, and calls for further research into venom composition in Asiatic cobras.

Key words

MtDNA sequencing molecular systematics Naja Serpentes Elapidae cryptic species snakebite antivenom

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag Basel 1994