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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Mar 17;112(11):E1247-56. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1424670112. Epub 2015 Feb 23.

Extraordinary diversity of visual opsin genes in dragonflies.

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Bioproduction Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8566, Japan;
NODAI Genome Research Center, Tokyo University of Agriculture, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 156-8502, Japan;
Laboratory of Neuroethology, Department of Evolutionary Studies of Biosystems, SOKENDAI (The Graduate University for Advanced Studies), Hayama, Kanagawa 240-0115, Japan; and.
Department of Marine Genomics, School of Marine Biosciences, Kitasato University, Sagamihara, Kanagawa 252-0373, Japan.
Bioproduction Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8566, Japan;


Dragonflies are colorful and large-eyed animals strongly dependent on color vision. Here we report an extraordinary large number of opsin genes in dragonflies and their characteristic spatiotemporal expression patterns. Exhaustive transcriptomic and genomic surveys of three dragonflies of the family Libellulidae consistently identified 20 opsin genes, consisting of 4 nonvisual opsin genes and 16 visual opsin genes of 1 UV, 5 short-wavelength (SW), and 10 long-wavelength (LW) type. Comprehensive transcriptomic survey of the other dragonflies representing an additional 10 families also identified as many as 15-33 opsin genes. Molecular phylogenetic analysis revealed dynamic multiplications and losses of the opsin genes in the course of evolution. In contrast to many SW and LW genes expressed in adults, only one SW gene and several LW genes were expressed in larvae, reflecting less visual dependence and LW-skewed light conditions for their lifestyle under water. In this context, notably, the sand-burrowing or pit-dwelling species tended to lack SW gene expression in larvae. In adult visual organs: (i) many SW genes and a few LW genes were expressed in the dorsal region of compound eyes, presumably for processing SW-skewed light from the sky; (ii) a few SW genes and many LW genes were expressed in the ventral region of compound eyes, probably for perceiving terrestrial objects; and (iii) expression of a specific LW gene was associated with ocelli. Our findings suggest that the stage- and region-specific expressions of the diverse opsin genes underlie the behavior, ecology, and adaptation of dragonflies.


color vision; dragonfly; molecular evolution; opsin

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