The leaf-nosed bats (Phyllostomidae) are outliers among chiropterans with respect to the unusually high diversity of dietary strategies within the family. Salivary glands, owing to their functions and high ultrastructural variability among lineages, are proposed to have played an important role during the phyllostomid radiation. To identify genes underlying salivary gland functional diversification, we sequenced submandibular gland transcriptomes from phyllostomid species representative of divergent dietary strategies. From the assembled transcriptomes, we performed an array of selection tests and gene expression analyses to identify signatures of adaptation. Overall, we identified an enrichment of immunity-related gene ontology terms among 53 genes evolving under positive selection. Lineage-specific selection tests revealed several endomembrane system genes under selection in the vampire bat. Many genes that respond to insulin were under selection and differentially expressed genes pointed to modifications of amino acid synthesis pathways in plant-visitors. Results indicate salivary glands have diversified in various ways across a functional diverse clade of mammals in response to niche specializations.
- Molecular evolution
- Submandibular glands