Our collaborative achievement with Prof. Inoue-Murayama and Mr. Endo (WRC, Kyoto Univ.) got published in Journal of Evolutionary Biology. “Publications” page in our web was also updated accordingly.
Title: Genetic signatures of lipid metabolism evolution in Cetacea since the divergence from terrestrial ancestor
Abstract: In mammalian evolutionary history, Cetacea (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) achieved astonishing success by adapting to an aquatic environment. One unique characteristic of cetaceans, contributing to this adaptive success, is efficient lipid utilization. Here we report a comparative genetic analysis of five aquatic and five terrestrial Cetartiodactyla species using 144 genes associated with lipid metabolism. Mutation ratio (dN/dS), amino acid substitution in functional domains, and metabolic pathways were evaluated using branch‐site model in PAML, Pfam, and KEGG, respectively. Our tests detected 20 positively selected genes in Cetacea compared to 11 in Bovidae with little overlap between the lineages. We identified lineage‐specific patterns of amino acid substitutions and functional domains that were mutually exclusive between cetaceans and bovids, supporting divergent evolution of lipid metabolism since the divergence of these taxa from a common ancestor. Moreover, a pathway analysis showed that the identified genes in cetaceans were associated with lipid digestion, lipid storage, and energy producing pathways. This study emphasizes the evolutionary context of lipid metabolism modification of cetaceans and provides a foundation for future studies of elucidating the adapted biological mechanisms of cetacean lipid metabolism and a framework for incorporating ecological context into studies aimed at investigating adaptive evolution.