alexa Molecular evolution of the major chemosensory gene families in insects.
Molecular Biology

Molecular Biology

Cell & Developmental Biology

Author(s): SnchezGracia A, Vieira FG, Rozas J

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Abstract Chemoreception is a crucial biological process that is essential for the survival of animals. In insects, olfaction allows the organism to recognise volatile cues that allow the detection of food, predators and mates, whereas the sense of taste commonly allows the discrimination of soluble stimulants that elicit feeding behaviours and can also initiate innate sexual and reproductive responses. The most important proteins involved in the recognition of chemical cues comprise moderately sized multigene families. These families include odorant-binding proteins (OBPs) and chemosensory proteins (CSPs), which are involved in peripheral olfactory processing, and the chemoreceptor superfamily formed by the olfactory receptor (OR) and gustatory receptor (GR) families. Here, we review some recent evolutionary genomic studies of chemosensory gene families using the data from fully sequenced insect genomes, especially from the 12 newly available Drosophila genomes. Overall, the results clearly support the birth-and-death model as the major mechanism of evolution in these gene families. Namely, new members arise by tandem gene duplication, progressively diverge in sequence and function, and can eventually be lost from the genome by a deletion or pseudogenisation event. Adaptive changes fostered by environmental shifts are also observed in the evolution of chemosensory families in insects and likely involve reproductive, ecological or behavioural traits. Consequently, the current size of these gene families is mainly a result of random gene gain and loss events. This dynamic process may represent a major source of genetic variation, providing opportunities for FUTURE specific adaptations. This article was published in Heredity (Edinb) and referenced in Cell & Developmental Biology

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