Family wide molecular adaptations to underground life in African mole-rats revealed by phylogenomic analysis

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dc.contributor.author Davies, Kalina T.J.
dc.contributor.author Bennett, Nigel C., 1961-
dc.contributor.author Tsagkogeorga, Georgia
dc.contributor.author Rossiter, Stephen J.
dc.contributor.author Faulkes, Christopher G., 1959-
dc.date.accessioned 2016-02-16T10:42:12Z
dc.date.available 2016-02-16T10:42:12Z
dc.date.issued 2015-12
dc.description.abstract During their evolutionary radiation, mammals have colonized diverse habitats. Arguably the subterranean niche is the most inhospitable of these, characterized by reduced oxygen, elevated carbon dioxide, absence of light, scarcity of food, and a substrate that is energetically costly to burrow through. Of all lineages to have transitioned to a subterranean niche, African mole-rats are one of the most successful. Much of their ecological success can be attributed to a diet of plant storage organs, which has allowed them to colonize climatically varied habitats across sub-Saharan Africa, and has probably contributed to the evolution of their diverse social systems. Yet despite their many remarkable phenotypic specializations, little is known about molecular adaptations underlying these traits. To address this, we sequenced the transcriptomes of seven mole-rat taxa, including three solitary species, and combined new sequences with existing genomic data sets. Alignments of more than 13,000 protein-coding genes encompassed, for the first time, all six genera and the full spectrum of ecological and social variation in the clade. We detected positive selection within the mole-rat clade and along ancestral branches in approximately 700 genes including loci associated with tumorigenesis, aging, morphological development, and sociality. By combining these results with gene ontology annotation and protein–protein networks, we identified several clusters of functionally related genes. This family wide analysis of molecular evolution in mole-rats has identified a suite of positively selected genes, deepening our understanding of the extreme phenotypic traits exhibited by this group. en_ZA
dc.description.librarian hb2015 en_ZA
dc.description.sponsorship The European Research Council (ERC Starting grant 310482 [EVOGENO]) awarded to S.J.R.; the DST-NRF SARChI Chair of Mammalian Behavioral Ecology and Physiology (grant number 64756) (funds to N.C.B.). en_ZA
dc.description.uri http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org en_ZA
dc.identifier.citation Davies, KTJ, Bennett, NC, Tsagkogeorga, G, Rossiter, SJ & Faulkes, CG 2015, 'Family wide molecular adaptations to underground life in African mole-rats revealed by phylogenomic analysis', Molecular Biology and Evolution, vol. 32, no. 12, pp. 3089-3107. en_ZA
dc.identifier.issn 0737-4038 (print)
dc.identifier.issn 1537-1719 (online)
dc.identifier.other 10.1093/molbev/msv175
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2263/51415
dc.language.iso en en_ZA
dc.publisher Oxford University Press en_ZA
dc.rights The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). en_ZA
dc.subject Adaptive evolution en_ZA
dc.subject Positive selection en_ZA
dc.subject Subterranean en_ZA
dc.subject Mole-rats en_ZA
dc.title Family wide molecular adaptations to underground life in African mole-rats revealed by phylogenomic analysis en_ZA
dc.type Article en_ZA


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