Contribution of Nonohnologous Duplicated Genes to High Habitat Variability in Mammals

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The mechanism by which genetic systems affect environmental adaptation is a focus of considerable attention in the fields of ecology, evolution, and conservation. However, the genomic characteristics that constrain adaptive evolution have remained unknown. A recent study showed that the proportion of duplicated genes in whole Drosophila genomes correlated with environmental variability within habitat, but it remains unclear whether the correlation is observed even in vertebrates whose genomes including a large number of duplicated genes generated by whole-genome duplication (WGD). Here, we focus on fully sequenced mammalian genomes that experienced WGD in early vertebrate lineages and show that the proportion of small-scale duplication (SSD) genes in the genome, but not that of WGD genes, is significantly correlated with habitat variability. Moreover, species with low habitat variability have a higher proportion of lost duplicated genes, particularly SSD genes, than those with high habitat variability. These results indicate that species that inhabit variable environments may maintain more SSD genes in their genomes and suggest that SSD genes are important for adapting to novel environments and surviving environmental changes. These insights may be applied to predicting invasive and endangered species.

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