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Results Probl Cell Differ. 2009;47:1-23. doi: 10.1007/400_2008_4.

Extraordinary diversity of chemosensory receptor gene repertoires among vertebrates.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, The Chinese Academy of Sciences, Arthur-Scheunert-Allee 114-116, 650223, Kunming, China.


Chemosensation (smell and taste) is important to the survival and reproduction of vertebrates and is mediated by specific bindings of odorants, pheromones, and tastants by chemoreceptors that are encoded by several large gene families. This review summarizes recent comparative genomic and evolutionary studies of vertebrate chemoreceptor genes. It focuses on the remarkable diversity of chemoreceptor gene repertoires in terms of gene number and gene sequence across vertebrates and the evolutionary mechanisms that are responsible for generating this diversity. We argue that the great among-species variation of chemoreceptor gene repertoires is a result of adaptations of individual species to their environments and diets.

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