Opsin evolution in the Ambulacraria. Academic Article uri icon


  • Opsins--G-protein coupled receptors involved in photoreception--have been extensively studied in the animal kingdom. The present work provides new insights into opsin-based photoreception and photoreceptor cell evolution with a first analysis of opsin sequence data for a major deuterostome clade, the Ambulacraria. Systematic data analysis, including for the first time hemichordate opsin sequences and an expanded echinoderm dataset, led to a robust opsin phylogeny for this cornerstone superphylum. Multiple genomic and transcriptomic resources were surveyed to cover each class of Hemichordata and Echinodermata. In total, 119 ambulacrarian opsin sequences were found, 22 new sequences in hemichordates and 97 in echinoderms (including 67 new sequences). We framed the ambulacrarian opsin repertoire within eumetazoan diversity by including selected reference opsins from non-ambulacrarians. Our findings corroborate the presence of all major ancestral bilaterian opsin groups in Ambulacraria. Furthermore, we identified two opsin groups specific to echinoderms. In conclusion, a molecular phylogenetic framework for investigating light-perception and photobiological behaviors in marine deuterostomes has been obtained.

publication date

  • December 2015