The evolution of fangs, venom, and mimicry systems in blenny fishes

Casewell, Nicholas R., Visser, Jeroen C., Baumann, Kate, Dobson, James, Han, Han, Kuruppu, Sanjaya, Morgan, Michael, Romilio, Anthony, Weisbecker, Vera, Ali, Syed A., Debono, Jordan, Koludarov, Ivan, Que, Ivo, Bird, Gregory C., Cooke, Gavan M., Nouwens, Amanda, Hodgson, Wayne C., Wagstaff, Simon C., Cheney, Karen L., Vetter, Irina, van der Weerd, Louise, Richardson, Michael K. and Fry, Bryan G. (2017) The evolution of fangs, venom, and mimicry systems in blenny fishes. Current Biology, 27 8: 1184-1191. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2017.02.067

Author Casewell, Nicholas R.
Visser, Jeroen C.
Baumann, Kate
Dobson, James
Han, Han
Kuruppu, Sanjaya
Morgan, Michael
Romilio, Anthony
Weisbecker, Vera
Ali, Syed A.
Debono, Jordan
Koludarov, Ivan
Que, Ivo
Bird, Gregory C.
Cooke, Gavan M.
Nouwens, Amanda
Hodgson, Wayne C.
Wagstaff, Simon C.
Cheney, Karen L.
Vetter, Irina
van der Weerd, Louise
Richardson, Michael K.
Fry, Bryan G.
Title The evolution of fangs, venom, and mimicry systems in blenny fishes
Journal name Current Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0960-9822
Publication date 2017-03-20
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2017.02.067
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 27
Issue 8
Start page 1184
End page 1191
Total pages 8
Place of publication Cambridge, MA, United States
Publisher Cell Press
Collection year 2018
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Venom systems have evolved on multiple occasions across the animal kingdom, and they can act as key adaptations to protect animals from predators [1]. Consequently, venomous animals serve as models for a rich source of mimicry types, as non-venomous species benefit from reductions in predation risk by mimicking the coloration, body shape, and/or movement of toxic counterparts [2; 3; 4 ; 5]. The frequent evolution of such deceitful imitations provides notable examples of phenotypic convergence and are often invoked as classic exemplars of evolution by natural selection. Here, we investigate the evolution of fangs, venom, and mimetic relationships in reef fishes from the tribe Nemophini (fangblennies). Comparative morphological analyses reveal that enlarged canine teeth (fangs) originated at the base of the Nemophini radiation and have enabled a micropredatory feeding strategy in non-venomous Plagiotremus spp. Subsequently, the evolution of deep anterior grooves and their coupling to venom secretory tissue provide Meiacanthus spp. with toxic venom that they effectively employ for defense. We find that fangblenny venom contains a number of toxic components that have been independently recruited into other animal venoms, some of which cause toxicity via interactions with opioid receptors, and result in a multifunctional biochemical phenotype that exerts potent hypotensive effects. The evolution of fangblenny venom has seemingly led to phenotypic convergence via the formation of a diverse array of mimetic relationships that provide protective (Batesian mimicry) and predatory (aggressive mimicry) benefits to other fishes [ 2 ; 6]. Our results further our understanding of how novel morphological and biochemical adaptations stimulate ecological interactions in the natural world.
Keyword Meiacanthus
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

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Created: Fri, 07 Apr 2017, 13:49:02 EST by Mrs Louise Nimwegen on behalf of School of Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences