Molecular phylogeny and evolution of the cone snails (Gastropoda, Conoidea).
ABSTRACT: We present a large-scale molecular phylogeny that includes 320 of the 761 recognized valid species of the cone snails (Conus), one of the most diverse groups of marine molluscs, based on three mitochondrial genes (COI, 16S rDNA and 12S rDNA). This is the first phylogeny of the taxon to employ concatenated sequences of several genes, and it includes more than twice as many species as the last published molecular phylogeny of the entire group nearly a decade ago. Most of the numerous molecular phylogenies published during the last 15years are limited to rather small fractions of its species diversity. Bayesian and maximum likelihood analyses are mostly congruent and confirm the presence of three previously reported highly divergent lineages among cone snails, and one identified here using molecular data. About 85% of the species cluster in the single Large Major Clade; the others are divided between the Small Major Clade (?12%), the Conus californicus lineage (one species), and a newly defined clade (?3%). We also define several subclades within the Large and Small major clades, but most of their relationships remain poorly supported. To illustrate the usefulness of molecular phylogenies in addressing specific evolutionary questions, we analyse the evolution of the diet, the biogeography and the toxins of cone snails. All cone snails whose feeding biology is known inject venom into large prey animals and swallow them whole. Predation on polychaete worms is inferred as the ancestral state, and diet shifts to molluscs and fishes occurred rarely. The ancestor of cone snails probably originated from the Indo-Pacific; rather few colonisations of other biogeographic provinces have probably occurred. A new classification of the Conidae, based on the molecular phylogeny, is published in an accompanying paper.
Project description:The biology of modern Conidae (cone snails)--which includes the hyperdiverse genus Conus--has been intensively studied, but the fossil record of the clade remains poorly understood, particularly within an evolutionary framework. Here, ultraviolet light is used to reveal and characterize the original shell coloration patterns of 28 species of cone snails from three Neogene coral reef-associated deposits from the Cibao Valley, northern Dominican Republic. These fossils come from the upper Miocene Cercado Fm. and lower Pliocene Gurabo Fm., and range in age from about 6.6-4.8 Ma. Comparison of the revealed coloration patterns with those of extant species allow the taxa to be assigned to three genera of cone snails (Profundiconus, Conasprella, and Conus) and at least nine subgenera. Thirteen members of these phylogenetically diverse reef faunas are described as new species. These include: Profundiconus? hennigi, Conasprella (Ximeniconus) ageri, Conus anningae, Conus lyelli, Conus (Atlanticonus?) franklinae, Conus (Stephanoconus) gouldi, Conus (Stephanoconus) bellacoensis, Conus (Ductoconus) cashi, Conus (Dauciconus) garrisoni, Conus (Dauciconus?) zambaensis, Conus (Spuriconus?) kaesleri, Conus (Spuriconus?) lombardii, and Conus (Lautoconus?) carlottae. Each of the three reef deposits contain a minimum of 14-16 cone snail species, levels of diversity that are similar to modern Indo-Pacific reef systems. Finally, most of the 28 species can be assigned to modern clades and thus have important implications for understanding the biogeographic and temporal histories of these clades in tropical America.
Project description:Puillandre, N. et al. (2010) Genetic divergence and geographic variation in a deep-water cone lineage: molecular and morphological analyses of the Conus orbignyi complex (Mollusca: Conoidea).The cone snails (family Conidae) are a hyperdiverse lineage of venomous gastropods. Two standard markers, COI and ITS2, were used to define six genetically-divergent groups within a subclade of Conidae that includes Conus orbignyi; each of these was then evaluated based on their shell morphology. We conclude that three forms, previously regarded as subspecies of Conus orbignyi are distinct species, now recognized as Conus orbignyi, Conus elokismenos and Conus coriolisi. In addition, three additional species (Conus pseudorbignyi, Conus joliveti and Conus comatosa) belong to this clade. Some of the proposed species (e.g., Conus elokismenos) are possibly in turn complexes comprising multiple species. Groups such as Conidae illustrate the challenges generally faced in species delimitation in biodiverse lineages. In the case of the Conus orbignyi complex, not only are there definable, genetically divergent lineages, but also considerable geographic variation within each group. Our study suggests that an intensive analysis of multiple specimens within a single locality helps to minimize the confounding effects of geographic variation and can be a useful starting point for circumscribing different species within such a confusing complex.
Project description:The genus Conus comprises approximately 700 species of venomous marine cone snails that are highly efficient predators of worms, snails, and fish. In evolutionary terms, cone snails are relatively young with the earliest fossil records occurring in the Lower Eocene, 55?Ma. The rapid radiation of cone snail species has been accompanied by remarkably high rates of toxin diversification. To shed light on the molecular mechanisms that accompany speciation, we investigated the toxin repertoire of two sister species, Conus andremenezi and Conus praecellens, that were until recently considered a single variable species. A total of 196 and 250 toxin sequences were identified in the venom gland transcriptomes of C. andremenezi and C. praecellens belonging to 25 and 29 putative toxin gene superfamilies, respectively. Comparative analysis with closely (Conus tribblei and Conus lenavati) and more distantly related species (Conus geographus) suggests that speciation is associated with significant diversification of individual toxin genes (exogenes) whereas the expression pattern of toxin gene superfamilies within lineages remains largely conserved. Thus, changes within individual toxin sequences can serve as a sensitive indicator for recent speciation whereas changes in the expression pattern of gene superfamilies are likely to reflect more dramatic differences in a species' interaction with its prey, predators, and competitors.
Project description:Cone snails in the Virgiconus clade prey on marine worms. Here, we identify six related conotoxins in the O1-superfamily from three species in this clade, Conus virgo, Conus terebra and Conus kintoki. One of these peptides, vi6a, was directly purified from the venom of C. virgo by following its activity using calcium imaging of dissociated mouse dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. The purified peptide was biochemically characterized, synthesized and tested for activity in mice. Hyperactivity was observed upon both intraperitoneal and intracranial injection of the peptide. The effect of the synthetic peptide on DRG neurons was identical to that of the native peptide. Using the vi6a sequence, five other homologs were identified. These peptides define a glycine-rich subgroup of the O1-superfamily from the Virgiconus clade, with biological activity in mice.
Project description:The cone snails belong to the superfamily Conoidea, comprising approximately 10,000 venomous marine gastropods. We determined the complete mitochondrial DNA sequence of Conus textile. The gene order is identical in Conus textile, Lophiotoma cerithiformis (another Conoidean gastropod), and the neogastropod Ilyanassa obsoleta, (not in the superfamily Conoidea). However, the intergenic interval between the coxI and coxII genes was much longer in C. textile (165bp) than in any other previously analyzed gastropod. We used the intergenic region to evaluate evolutionary patterns. In most neogastropods and three conidean families the intergenic interval is small (<30 nucleotides). Within Conus, the variation is from 130 to 170bp, and each different clade within Conus has a narrower size distribution. In Conasprella, a subgenus traditionally assigned to Conus, the intergenic regions vary between 200 and 500bp, suggesting that the species in Conasprella are not congeneric with Conus. The intergenic region was used for phylogenetic analysis of a group of fish-hunting Conus, despite the short length resolution was better than using standard markers. Thus, the coxI-coxII intergenic region can be used both to define evolutionary relationships between species in a clade, and to understand broad evolutionary patterns across the large superfamily Conoidea.
Project description:Cone snails are venomous predatory marine neogastropods that belong to the species-rich superfamily of the Conoidea. So far, the mitochondrial genomes of two cone snail species (Conus textile and Conus borgesi) have been described, and these feed on snails and worms, respectively. Here, we report the mitochondrial genome sequence of the fish-hunting cone snail Conus consors and describe a novel putative control region (CR) which seems to be absent in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of other cone snail species. This possible CR spans about 700 base pairs (bp) and is located between the genes encoding the transfer RNA for phenylalanine (tRNA-Phe, trnF) and cytochrome c oxidase subunit III (cox3). The novel putative CR contains several sequence motifs that suggest a role in mitochondrial replication and transcription.
Project description:The venomous marine gastropods, cone snails (genus Conus), inject prey with a lethal cocktail of conopeptides, small cysteine-rich peptides, each with a high affinity for its molecular target, generally an ion channel, receptor or transporter. Over the last decade, conopeptides have proven indispensable reagents for the study of vertebrate neurotransmission. Conus bullatus belongs to a clade of Conus species called Textilia, whose pharmacology is still poorly characterized. Thus the genomics analyses presented here provide the first step toward a better understanding the enigmatic Textilia clade.We have carried out a sequencing survey of the Conus bullatus genome and venom-duct transcriptome. We find that conopeptides are highly expressed within the venom-duct, and describe an in silico pipeline for their discovery and characterization using RNA-seq data. We have also carried out low-coverage shotgun sequencing of the genome, and have used these data to determine its size, genome-wide base composition, simple repeat, and mobile element densities.Our results provide the first global view of venom-duct transcription in any cone snail. A notable feature of Conus bullatus venoms is the breadth of A-superfamily peptides expressed in the venom duct, which are unprecedented in their structural diversity. We also find SNP rates within conopeptides are higher compared to the remainder of C. bullatus transcriptome, consistent with the hypothesis that conopeptides are under diversifying selection.
Project description:Marine drugs have developed rapidly in recent decades. Cone snails, a group of more than 700 species, have always been one of the focuses for new drug discovery. These venomous snails capture prey using a diverse array of unique bioactive neurotoxins, usually named as conotoxins or conopeptides. These conotoxins have proven to be valuable pharmacological probes and potential drugs due to their high specificity and affinity to ion channels, receptors, and transporters in the nervous systems of target prey and humans. Several research groups, including ours, have examined the venom gland of cone snails using a combination of transcriptomic and proteomic sequencing, and revealed the existence of hundreds of conotoxin transcripts and thousands of conopeptides in each Conus species. Over 2000 nucleotide and 8000 peptide sequences of conotoxins have been published, and the number is still increasing quickly. However, more than 98% of these sequences still lack 3D structural and functional information. With the rapid development of genomics and bioinformatics in recent years, functional predictions and investigations on conotoxins are making great progress in promoting the discovery of novel drugs. For example, ?-MVIIA was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2004 to treat chronic pain, and nine more conotoxins are at various stages of preclinical or clinical evaluation. In short, the genus Conus, the big family of cone snails, has become an important genetic resource for conotoxin identification and drug development.
Project description:Prey shifts in carnivorous predators are events that can initiate the accelerated generation of new biodiversity. However, it is seldom possible to reconstruct how the change in prey preference occurred. Here we describe an evolutionary "smoking gun" that illuminates the transition from worm hunting to fish hunting among marine cone snails, resulting in the adaptive radiation of fish-hunting lineages comprising ?100 piscivorous Conus species. This smoking gun is ?-conotoxin TsVIA, a peptide from the venom of Conus tessulatus that delays inactivation of vertebrate voltage-gated sodium channels. C. tessulatus is a species in a worm-hunting clade, which is phylogenetically closely related to the fish-hunting cone snail specialists. The discovery of a ?-conotoxin that potently acts on vertebrate sodium channels in the venom of a worm-hunting cone snail suggests that a closely related ancestral toxin enabled the transition from worm hunting to fish hunting, as ?-conotoxins are highly conserved among fish hunters and critical to their mechanism of prey capture; this peptide, ?-conotoxin TsVIA, has striking sequence similarity to these ?-conotoxins from piscivorous cone snail venoms. Calcium-imaging studies on dissociated dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons revealed the peptide's putative molecular target (voltage-gated sodium channels) and mechanism of action (inhibition of channel inactivation). The results were confirmed by electrophysiology. This work demonstrates how elucidating the specific interactions between toxins and receptors from phylogenetically well-defined lineages can uncover molecular mechanisms that underlie significant evolutionary transitions.
Project description:Vasopressins and oxytocins are homologous, ubiquitous and multifunctional peptides present in animals. Conopressins are vasopressin/oxytocin-related peptides that have been found in the venom of cone snails, a genus of marine predatory molluscs that envenom their prey with a complex mixture of neuroactive peptides. In the present paper, we report the purification and characterization of a unique conopressin isolated from the venom of Conus villepinii, a vermivorous cone snail species from the western Atlantic Ocean. This novel peptide, designated gamma-conopressin-vil, has the sequence CLIQDCPgammaG* (gamma is gamma-carboxyglutamate and * is C-terminal amidation). The unique feature of this vasopressin/oxytocin-like peptide is that the eighth residue is gamma-carboxyglutamate instead of a neutral or basic residue; therefore it could not be directly classified into either the vasopressin or the oxytocin peptide families. Nano-NMR spectroscopy of the peptide isolated directly from the cone snails revealed that the native gamma-conopressin-vil undergoes structural changes in the presence of calcium. This suggests that the peptide binds calcium, and the calcium-binding process is mediated by the gamma-carboxyglutamate residue. However, the negatively charged residues in the sequence of gamma-conopressin-vil may mediate calcium binding by a novel mechanism not observed in other peptides of this family.