Unveiling underestimated species diversity within the Central American Coralsnake, a medically important complex of venomous taxa
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AuthorJowers, Michael Joséph
Jowers, M.J., Smart, U., Sánchez-Ramírez, S. et al. Unveiling underestimated species diversity within the Central American Coralsnake, a medically important complex of venomous taxa. Sci Rep 13, 11674 (2023). [https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-37734-5]
SponsorshipNational Science Foundation (grant no. DEB-0416160 to ENS),; Instituto Bioclon (grant to ENS); UTA-Biology startup funds (to ENS); Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT, fellowship number SFRH/ BPD/109148/2015); Maria Zambrano grant from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Education and Next Generation EU.; Brazilian National Council of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq) (314287/2020-5); European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Grant Agreement Number 857251
Coralsnakes of the genus Micrurus are a diverse group of venomous snakes ranging from the southern United States to southern South America. Much uncertainty remains over the genus diversity, and understanding Micrurus systematics is of medical importance. In particular, the widespread Micrurus nigrocinctus spans from Mexico throughout Central America and into Colombia, with a number of described subspecies. This study provides new insights into the phylogenetic relationships within M. nigrocinctus by examining sequence data from a broad sampling of specimens from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. The recovered phylogenetic relationships suggest that M. nigrocinctus is a species complex originating in the Pliocene and composed of at least three distinct species-level lineages. In addition, recovery of highly divergent clades supports the elevation of some currently recognized subspecies to the full species rank while others may require synonymization.