Contrasting Patterns of Evolutionary Diversification in the Olfactory Repertoires of Reptile and Bird Genomes

Michael W. Vandewege, Sarah F. Mangum, Toni Gabaldón, Todd A. Castoe, David A. Ray, Federico G. Hoffmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Olfactory receptors (ORs) are membrane proteins that mediate the detection of odorants in the environment, and are the largest vertebrate gene family. Comparative studies of mammalian genomes indicate that OR repertoires vary widely, even between closely related lineages, as a consequence of frequent OR gains and losses. Several studies also suggest that mammalian OR repertoires are influenced by life history traits. Sauropsida is a diverse group of vertebrates group that is the sister group to mammals, and includes birds, testudines, squamates, and crocodilians, and represents a natural system to explore predictions derived from mammalian studies. In this study, we analyzed olfactory receptor (OR) repertoire variation among several representative species and found that the number of intact OR genes in sauropsid genomes analyzed ranged over an order of magnitude, from 108 in the green anole to over 1,000 in turtles. Our results suggest that different sauropsid lineages have highly divergent OR repertoire composition that derive from lineage-specific combinations of gene expansions, losses, and retentions of ancestral OR genes. These differences also suggest that varying degrees of adaption related to life history have shaped the unique OR repertoires observed across sauropsid lineages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)470-480
Number of pages11
JournalGenome Biology and Evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 9 2016


  • ORs
  • Sauropsida
  • gene duplication
  • gene family evolution


Dive into the research topics of 'Contrasting Patterns of Evolutionary Diversification in the Olfactory Repertoires of Reptile and Bird Genomes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this