Evolutionary divergence of novel open reading frames in cichlids speciation
Abstract: Novel open reading frames (nORFs) with coding potential may arise from noncoding DNA. Not much is known about their emergence, functional role, fixation in a population or contribution to adaptive radiation. Cichlids fishes exhibit extensive phenotypic diversification and speciation. Encounters with new environments alone are not sufficient to explain this striking diversity of cichlid radiation because other taxa coexistent with the Cichlidae demonstrate lower species richness. Wagner et al. analyzed cichlid diversification in 46 African lakes and reported that both extrinsic environmental factors and intrinsic lineage-specific traits related to sexual selection have strongly influenced the cichlid radiation, which indicates the existence of unknown molecular mechanisms responsible for rapid phenotypic diversification, such as emergence of novel open reading frames (nORFs). In this study, we integrated transcriptomic and proteomic signatures from two tissues of two cichlids species, identified nORFs and performed evolutionary analysis on these nORF regions. Our results suggest that the time scale of speciation of the two species and evolutionary divergence of these nORF genomic regions are similar and indicate a potential role for these nORFs in speciation of the cichlid fishes.
Funder: DBT-Cambridge Lectureship
Funder: Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award