Convergent sequence evolution between echolocating bats and dolphins


Cases of convergent evolution - where different lineages have evolved similar traits independently - are common and have proven central to our understanding of selection. Yet convincing examples of adaptive convergence at the sequence level are exceptionally rare [1]. The motor protein Prestin is expressed in mammalian outer hair cells (OHCs) and is thought to confer high frequency sensitivity and selectivity in the mammalian auditory system [2]. We previously reported that the Prestin gene has undergone sequence convergence among unrelated lineages of echolocating bat [3]. Here we report that this gene has also undergone convergent amino acid substitutions in echolocating dolphins, which group with echolocating bats in a phylogenetic tree of Prestin. Furthermore, we find evidence that these changes were driven by natural selection.

In Current Biology 20:R53–54
James Cotton
James Cotton
Senior Staff Scientist

My research interests are in the genomics, and particularly population genomics of parasites, particularly those that cause neglected tropical diseases