Convergent evolution of the genomes of marine mammals

Nature Genetics
By: , and 



Marine mammals from different mammalian orders share several phenotypic traits adapted to the aquatic environment and therefore represent a classic example of convergent evolution. To investigate convergent evolution at the genomic level, we sequenced and performed de novo assembly of the genomes of three species of marine mammals (the killer whale, walrus and manatee) from three mammalian orders that share independently evolved phenotypic adaptations to a marine existence. Our comparative genomic analyses found that convergent amino acid substitutions were widespread throughout the genome and that a subset of these substitutions were in genes evolving under positive selection and putatively associated with a marine phenotype. However, we found higher levels of convergent amino acid substitutions in a control set of terrestrial sister taxa to the marine mammals. Our results suggest that, whereas convergent molecular evolution is relatively common, adaptive molecular convergence linked to phenotypic convergence is comparatively rare.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Convergent evolution of the genomes of marine mammals
Series title Nature Genetics
DOI 10.1038/ng.3198
Volume 47
Issue 3
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Publisher location New York, NY
Contributing office(s) Southeast Ecological Science Center
Description 4 p.
First page 272
Last page 275
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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