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Science DOI:10.1126/science.1254432

Nonhuman genetics. Genomic basis for the convergent evolution of electric organs.

Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsGallant, JR, Traeger, LL, Volkening, JD, Moffett, H, Chen, P-H, Novina, CD, Phillips, GN, Anand, R, Wells, GB, Pinch, M, Güth, R, Unguez, GA, Albert, JS, Zakon, HH, Samanta, MP, Sussman, MR
Date Published2014 Jun 27
KeywordsAnimals, Biological Evolution, Catfishes, Cell Differentiation, Electric Fish, Electric Organ, Electrophorus, Gene Expression Regulation, Gene Regulatory Networks, Muscle, Skeletal, Phylogeny, Transcription Factors, Transcriptome

Little is known about the genetic basis of convergent traits that originate repeatedly over broad taxonomic scales. The myogenic electric organ has evolved six times in fishes to produce electric fields used in communication, navigation, predation, or defense. We have examined the genomic basis of the convergent anatomical and physiological origins of these organs by assembling the genome of the electric eel (Electrophorus electricus) and sequencing electric organ and skeletal muscle transcriptomes from three lineages that have independently evolved electric organs. Our results indicate that, despite millions of years of evolution and large differences in the morphology of electric organ cells, independent lineages have leveraged similar transcription factors and developmental and cellular pathways in the evolution of electric organs.


Alternate JournalScience
PubMed ID24970089
Grant ListT32 GM007133 / GM / NIGMS NIH HHS / United States
1SC1GM092297-01A1 / GM / NIGMS NIH HHS / United States
R01 GM084879 / GM / NIGMS NIH HHS / United States
R01 GM088670 / GM / NIGMS NIH HHS / United States