Apr 11, 2016

Do aye-ayes echolocate? Studying convergent genomic evolution in a primate auditory specialist

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Richard J BankoffGeorge H Perry


Several taxonomically distinct mammalian groups – certain microbats and cetaceans (e.g. dolphins) – share both morphological adaptations related to echolocation behavior and strong signatures of convergent evolution at the amino acid level across seven genes related to auditory processing. Aye-ayes ( Daubentonia madagascariensis ) are nocturnal lemurs with a derived auditory processing system. Aye-ayes tap rapidly along the surfaces of dead trees, listening to reverberations to identify the mines of wood-boring insect larvae; this behavior has been hypothesized to functionally mimic echolocation. Here we investigated whether there are signals of genomic convergence between aye-ayes and known mammalian echolocators. We developed a computational pipeline (BEAT: Basic Exon Assembly Tool) that produces consensus sequences for regions of interest from shotgun genomic sequencing data for non-model organisms without requiring de novo genome assembly. We reconstructed complete coding region sequences for the seven convergent echolocating bat-dolphin genes for aye-ayes and another lemur. Sequences were compared in a phylogenetic framework to those of bat and dolphin echolocators and appropriate non-echolocating outgroups. Our analysis r...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Computer Software
Whole-Genome Shotgun Sequencing
Family Lemuridae
Trees (plant)
Ay-AMP peptide

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