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Dietary specialization drives multiple independent losses and gains in the bitter taste gene repertoire of Laurasiatherian Mammals

Liu, Zhijin, Liu, Guangjian, Hailer, Frank, Orozco Ter Wengel, Pablo, Tan, Xinxin, Tian, Jundong, Yan, Zhongze, Zhang, Baowei and Li, Ming 2016. Dietary specialization drives multiple independent losses and gains in the bitter taste gene repertoire of Laurasiatherian Mammals. Frontiers in Zoology 13 (1) , 28. 10.1186/s12983-016-0161-1

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Background: Bitter taste perception is essential for species with selective food intake, enabling them to avoid unpalatable or toxic items. Previous studies noted a marked variation in the number of TAS2R genes among various vertebrate species, but the underlying causes are not well understood. Laurasiatherian mammals have highly diversified dietary niche, showing repeated evolution of specialized feeding preferences in multiple lineages and offering a unique chance to investigate how various feeding niches are associated with copy number variation for bitter taste receptor genes. Results: Here we investigated the evolutionary trajectories of TAS2Rs and their implications on bitter taste perception in whole-genome assemblies of 41 Laurasiatherian species. The number of intact TAS2Rs copies varied considerably, ranging from 0 to 52. As an extreme example of a narrow dietary niche, the Chinese pangolin possessed the lowest number of intact TAS2Rs (n = 2) among studied terrestrial vertebrates. Marine mammals (cetacea and pinnipedia), which swallow prey whole, presented a reduced copy number of TAS2Rs (n = 0-5). In contrast, independent insectivorous lineages, such as the shrew and insectivorous bats possessed a higher TAS2R diversity (n = 52 and n = 20-32, respectively), exceeding that in herbivores (n = 9-22) and omnivores (n = 18-22). Conclusions: Besides herbivores, insectivores in Laurasiatheria tend to have more functional TAS2Rs in comparison to carnivores and omnivores. Furthermore, animals swallowing food whole (cetacean, pinnipedia and pangolin) have lost most functional TAS2Rs. These findings provide the most comprehensive view of the bitter taste gene repertoire in Laurasiatherian mammals to date, casting new light on the relationship between losses and gains of TAS2Rs and dietary specialization in mammals.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH426 Genetics
Q Science > QL Zoology
Publisher: BioMed Central
ISSN: 1742-9994
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 18 July 2016
Date of Acceptance: 22 June 2016
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2020 09:37

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