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Adaptive evolution of color vision as seen through the eyes of butterflies

Frentiu, F.D., Bernard, G.D., Cuevas, C.I., Sison-Mangus , M.P., Prudic, K.L., & Briscoe, A.D. (2007) Adaptive evolution of color vision as seen through the eyes of butterflies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(Supp-1), pp. 8634-8640.

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Abstract

Butterflies and primates are interesting for comparative color vision studies, because both have evolved middle- (M) and long-wavelength- (L) sensitive photopigments with overlapping absorbance spectrum maxima (lambda(max) values). Although positive selection is important for the maintenance of spectral variation within the primate pigments, it remains an open question whether it contributes similarly to the diversification of butterfly pigments. To examine this issue, we performed epimicrospectrophotometry on the eyes of five Limenitis butterfly species and found a 31-nm range of variation in the lambda(max) values of the L-sensitive photopigments (514-545 nm). We cloned partial Limenitis L opsin gene sequences and found a significant excess of replacement substitutions relative to polymorphisms among species. Mapping of these L photopigment lambda(max) values onto a phylogeny revealed two instances within Lepidoptera of convergently evolved L photopigment lineages whose lambda(max) values were blue-shifted. A codon-based maximum-likelihood analysis indicated that, associated with the two blue spectral shifts, four amino acid sites (Ile17Met, Ala64Ser, Asn70Ser, and Ser137Ala) have evolved substitutions in parallel and exhibit significant d(N)/d(S) >1. Homology modeling of the full-length Limenitis arthemis astyanax L opsin placed all four substitutions within the chromophore-binding pocket. Strikingly, the Ser137Ala substitution is in the same position as a site that in primates is responsible for a 5- to 7-nm blue spectral shift. Our data show that some of the same amino acid sites are under positive selection in the photopigments of both butterflies and primates, spanning an evolutionary distance >500 million years.

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ID Code: 54097
Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: adaptation, evolutionary genetics, opsin genes, butterflies
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0701447104
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (060000)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Deposited On: 12 Oct 2012 11:34
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2012 11:41

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