Evolution of novel traits is a challenging subject in biological research. Several snake lineages developed elaborate venom systems to deliver complex protein mixtures for prey capture. To understand mechanisms involved in snake venom evolution, we decoded here the ~1.4-Gb genome of a habu, Protobothrops flavoviridis. We identified 60 snake venom protein genes (SV) and 224 non-venom paralogs (NV), belonging to 18 gene families. Molecular phylogeny reveals early divergence of SV and NV genes, suggesting that one of the four copies generated through two rounds of whole-genome duplication was modified for use as a toxin. Among them, both SV and NV genes in four major components were extensively duplicated after their diversification, but accelerated evolution is evident exclusively in the SV genes. Both venom-related SV and NV genes are significantly enriched in microchromosomes. The present study thus provides a genetic background for evolution of snake venom composition.
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