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BMC Res Notes. 2009 Aug 5;2:159. doi: 10.1186/1756-0500-2-159.

The opsin repertoire of Jenynsia onca: a new perspective on gene duplication and divergence in livebearers.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Victoria, 3800 Finnerty Rd, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.



Jenynsia onca, commonly known as the one sided livebearer, is a member of the family Anablepidae. The opsin gene repertoires of J. onca's close relatives, the four-eyed fish (Anableps anableps) and the guppy (Poecilia reticulata), have been characterized and each found to include one unique LWS opsin. Currently, the relationship among LWS paralogs and orthologs in these species are unclear, making it difficult to test the hypotheses that link vision to morphology or life history traits. The phylogenetic signal appears to have been disrupted by gene conversion. Here we have sequenced the opsin genes of J. onca in order to resolve these relationships.


We identified nine visual opsins; LWS S180r, LWS S180, LWS P180, SWS1, SWS2A, SWS2B, RH1, RH2-1, and RH2-2. Key site analysis revealed only one unique haplotype, RH2-2, although this is unlikely to shift lambdamax significantly. LWS P180 was found to be a product of a gene conversion event with LWS S180, followed by convergence to a proline residue at the 180 site.


Jenynsia onca has at least 9 visual opsins: three LWS, one RH1, two RH2, one SWS1 and two SWS2. The presence of LWS P180 moves the location of the LWS P180-S180 tandem duplication event back to the base of the Poeciliidae-Anablepidae clade, expanding the number of species possessing this unusual blue shifted LWS opsin. The presence of the LWS P180 gene also confirms that gene conversion events have homogenized opsin paralogs in fish, just as they have in humans.

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