Trends Ecol Evol.: auth.: R. Benton

Trends Ecol Evol. 2015 Oct;30(10):590-600. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2015.07.009.

Multigene Family Evolution: Perspectives from Insect Chemoreceptors.


Understanding the birth and diversification of multigene families is a fundamental evolutionary problem. I argue for the insect chemoreceptor superfamily as an outstanding model. Although these receptors are currently the preserve of neuroscientists, putative homologous genes exist in diverse animal and plant genomes, implying an ancient origin. Moreover, functional studies suggest that they act as ligand-gated ion channels in both chemosensory and non-chemosensory processes. This family permits synergism of investigations into its structural and regulatory evolution with ecological studies of the selective pressures driving these changes. In addition, sequence divergence in these receptors can be exploited through co-evolutionary and comparative genomics analyses to help to elucidate their 3D structure and signaling mechanisms, and to reveal experimentally-accessible candidate loci to explore the genetic basis of adaptation.

Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

PMID: 26411616