Meet the corn snake Pantherophis guttatus! This snake unfortunately resembles the venomous copperhead and is often killed as a result of this mistaken identity. The truth is that corn snakes lack functional venom and are harmless to humans (although they will strike if disturbed).
The corn snake is found throughout the southeastern and central United States and is named for the species' regular presence near grain stores, where it preys on mice and rats that eat harvested corn. The Oxford English Dictionary cites this usage as far back as 1675, whilst other sources maintain that the corn snake is so-named because the distinctive, nearly-checkered pattern of the snake's belly scales resembles the kernels of variegated corn.
American corn snakes are popular pets everywhere except Australia. It is a prohibited invasive animal in Australia under the Biosecurity Act of 2014. If released into the wild in Australia, corn snakes could prey on and out-compete native species.
Today we share a chromosome-length assembly for Pantherophis guttatus based on the draft generated by Ullate-Agote et al 2014 & Ullate-Agote et al 2020. We are grateful to Shedd Aquarium for their help with the Hi-C sample used for the upgrade! We are also grateful to the DNA Zoo Australia team at the University of Western Australia and Pawsey Supercomputing Centre for the computational support for this genome assembly. We hope that the new chromosome-length genome assembly will help promote corn snakes as a model species.
Check out the interactive Juicebox.js instance below for the interactive Hi-C contact map of the 18 corn snake chromosomes, and visit the assembly page for more detail!