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Convergent evolution of the genomes of marine mammals

January 26, 2015

Marine mammals from different mammalian orders share several phenotypic traits adapted to the aquatic environment and therefore represent a classic example of convergent evolution. To investigate convergent evolution at the genomic level, we sequenced and performed de novo assembly of the genomes of three species of marine mammals (the killer whale, walrus and manatee) from three mammalian orders that share independently evolved phenotypic adaptations to a marine existence. Our comparative genomic analyses found that convergent amino acid substitutions were widespread throughout the genome and that a subset of these substitutions were in genes evolving under positive selection and putatively associated with a marine phenotype. However, we found higher levels of convergent amino acid substitutions in a control set of terrestrial sister taxa to the marine mammals. Our results suggest that, whereas convergent molecular evolution is relatively common, adaptive molecular convergence linked to phenotypic convergence is comparatively rare.

Publication Year 2015
Title Convergent evolution of the genomes of marine mammals
DOI 10.1038/ng.3198
Authors Andrew D. Foote, Yue Liu, Gregg W.C. Thomas, Tomáš Vinař, Jessica Alföldi, Jixin Deng, Shannon Dugan, Cornelis E. van Elk, Margaret Hunter, Vandita Joshi, Ziad Khan, Christie Kovar, Sandra L. Lee, Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, Annalaura Mancia, Rasmus Nielsen, Xiang Qin, Jiaxin Qu, Brian J. Raney, Nagarjun Vijay, Jochen B. W. Wolf, Matthew W. Hahn, Donna M. Muzny, Kim C. Worley, M. Thomas P. Gilbert, Richard A. Gibbs
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Nature Genetics
Index ID 70155167
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Southeast Ecological Science Center