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J Mol Evol. 2008 Feb;66(2):130-7. doi: 10.1007/s00239-008-9065-9. Epub 2008 Jan 24.

Molecular evolution of arthropod color vision deduced from multiple opsin genes of jumping spiders.

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  • 1Department of Earth and Space Science, Graduate School of Science, Osaka University, Toyonaka 560-0043, Japan.


Among terrestrial animals, only vertebrates and arthropods possess wavelength-discrimination ability, so-called "color vision". For color vision to exist, multiple opsins which encode visual pigments sensitive to different wavelengths of light are required. While the molecular evolution of opsins in vertebrates has been well investigated, that in arthropods remains to be elucidated. This is mainly due to poor information about the opsin genes of non-insect arthropods. To obtain an overview of the evolution of color vision in Arthropoda, we isolated three kinds of opsins, Rh1, Rh2, and Rh3, from two jumping spider species, Hasarius adansoni and Plexippus paykulli. These spiders belong to Chelicerata, one of the most distant groups from Hexapoda (insects), and have color vision as do insects. Phylogenetic analyses of jumping spider opsins revealed a birth and death process of color vision evolution in the arthropod lineage. Phylogenetic positions of jumping spider opsins revealed that at least three opsins had already existed before the Chelicerata-Pancrustacea split. In addition, sequence comparison between jumping spider Rh3 and the shorter wavelength-sensitive opsins of insects predicted that an opsin of the ancestral arthropod had the lysine residue responsible for UV sensitivity. These results strongly suggest that the ancestral arthropod had at least trichromatic vision with a UV pigment and two visible pigments. Thereafter, in each pancrustacean and chelicerate lineage, the opsin repertoire was reconstructed by gene losses, gene duplications, and function-altering amino acid substitutions, leading to evolution of color vision.

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