Opsin gene duplication in Lepidoptera: retrotransposition, sex linkage, and gene expression

Mulhair, Peter O.; Crowley, Liam; Boyes, Douglas H. ORCID:; Lewis, Owen T.; Holland, Peter W.H.. 2023 Opsin gene duplication in Lepidoptera: retrotransposition, sex linkage, and gene expression. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 40 (11), msad241. 14, pp.

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Color vision in insects is determined by signaling cascades, central to which are opsin proteins, resulting in sensitivity to light at different wavelengths. In certain insect groups, lineage-specific evolution of opsin genes, in terms of copy number, shifts in expression patterns, and functional amino acid substitutions, has resulted in changes in color vision with subsequent behavioral and niche adaptations. Lepidoptera are a fascinating model to address whether evolutionary change in opsin content and sequence evolution are associated with changes in vision phenotype. Until recently, the lack of high-quality genome data representing broad sampling across the lepidopteran phylogeny has greatly limited our ability to accurately address this question. Here, we annotate opsin genes in 219 lepidopteran genomes representing 33 families, reconstruct their evolutionary history, and analyze shifts in selective pressures and expression between genes and species. We discover 44 duplication events in opsin genes across ∼300 million years of lepidopteran evolution. While many duplication events are species or family specific, we find retention of an ancient long-wavelength-sensitive (LW) opsin duplication derived by retrotransposition within the speciose superfamily Noctuoidea (in the families Nolidae, Erebidae, and Noctuidae). This conserved LW retrogene shows life stage–specific expression suggesting visual sensitivities or other sensory functions specific to the early larval stage. This study provides a comprehensive order-wide view of opsin evolution across Lepidoptera, showcasing high rates of opsin duplications and changes in expression patterns.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0737-4038
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: opsins, color vision, Lepidoptera, gene duplication, retrotransposition, gene expression
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Biology and Microbiology
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Date made live: 13 Dec 2023 08:56 +0 (UTC)

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