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Genome Biol Evol. 2017 Aug 1;9(8):2023-2036. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evx149.

The Evolutionary Dynamics of the Odorant Receptor Gene Family in Corbiculate Bees.

Author information

1
Department for Evolution and Ecology, Center for Population Biology, University of California, Davis.
2
Population Biology Graduate Group, Center for Population Biology, University of California, Davis.

Abstract

Insects rely on chemical information to locate food, choose mates, and detect potential predators. It has been hypothesized that adaptive changes in the olfactory system facilitated the diversification of numerous insect lineages. For instance, evolutionary changes of Odorant Receptor (OR) genes often occur in parallel with modifications in life history strategies. Corbiculate bees display a diverse array of behaviors that are controlled through olfaction, including varying degrees of social organization, and manifold associations with floral resources. Here we investigated the molecular mechanisms driving the evolution of the OR gene family in corbiculate bees in comparison to other chemosensory gene families. Our results indicate that the genomic organization of the OR gene family has remained highly conserved for ∼80 Myr, despite exhibiting major changes in repertoire size among bee lineages. Moreover, the evolution of OR genes appears to be driven mostly by lineage-specific gene duplications in few genomic regions that harbor large numbers of OR genes. A selection analysis revealed that OR genes evolve under positive selection, with the strongest signals detected in recently duplicated copies. Our results indicate that chromosomal translocations had a minimal impact on OR evolution, and instead local molecular mechanisms appear to be main drivers of OR repertoire size. Our results provide empirical support to the longstanding hypothesis that positive selection shaped the diversification of the OR gene family. Together, our results shed new light on the molecular mechanisms underlying the evolution of olfaction in insects.

KEYWORDS:

birth-death process; chemosensory genes; genomic architecture; honey bees; odorant receptors; positive selection

PMID:
28854688
PMCID:
PMC5597890
DOI:
10.1093/gbe/evx149
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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