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PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e46455. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046455. Epub 2012 Nov 6.

Genome-wide scan for bats and dolphin to detect their genetic basis for new locomotive styles.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, China. shen_yongyi@yahoo.com.cn


For most mammals, running is their major locomotive style, however, cetaceans and bats are two mammalian groups that have independently developed new locomotive styles (swimming and flying) from their terrestrial ancestors. In this study, we used a genome-wide comparative analysis in an attempt to identify the selective imprint of the development of new locomotive styles by cetaceans and bats to adapt to their new ecological niches. We found that an elevated proportion of mitochondrion-associated genes show evidence of adaptive evolution in cetaceans and on the common ancestral lineage leading to bats, compared to other terrestrial mammals. This result is consistent with the fact that during the independent developments of swimming and flying in these two groups, the changes of energy metabolism ratios would be among the most important factors to overcome elevated energy demands. Furthermore, genes that show evidence of sequence convergence or parallel evolution in these two lineages were overrepresented in the categories of energy metabolism, muscle contraction, heart, and glucose metabolism, genes that perform functions which are essential for locomotion. In conclusion, our analyses showed that on the dolphin and bat lineages, genes associated with locomotion not only both show a greater propensity to adaptively evolve, but also show evidence of sequence convergence, which likely reflects a response to a common requirement during their development of these two drastic locomotive styles.

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