Gene content evolution in the arthropods

Gregg W.C. Thomas, Elias Dohmen, Daniel S.T. Hughes, Shwetha C. Murali, Monica Poelchau, Karl Glastad, Clare A. Anstead, Nadia A. Ayoub, Phillip Batterham, Michelle Bellair, Greta J. Binford, Hsu Chao, Yolanda H. Chen, Christopher Childers, Huyen Dinh, Harsha Vardhan Doddapaneni, Jian J. Duan, Shannon Dugan, Lauren A. Esposito, Markus FriedrichJessica Garb, Robin B. Gasser, Michael A.D. Goodisman, Dawn E. Gundersen-Rindal, Yi Han, Alfred M. Handler, Masatsugu Hatakeyama, Lars Hering, Wayne B. Hunter, Panagiotis Ioannidis, Joy C. Jayaseelan, Divya Kalra, Abderrahman Khila, Pasi K. Korhonen, Carol Eunmi Lee, Sandra L. Lee, Yiyuan Li, Amelia R.I. Lindsey, Georg Mayer, Alistair P. McGregor, Duane D. McKenna, Bernhard Misof, Mala Munidasa, Monica Munoz-Torres, Donna M. Muzny, Oliver Niehuis, Nkechinyere Osuji-Lacy, Subba R. Palli, Kristen A. Panfilio, Matthias Pechmann, Trent Perry, Ralph S. Peters, Helen C. Poynton, Nikola Michael Prpic, Jiaxin Qu, Dorith Rotenberg, Coby Schal, Sean D. Schoville, Erin D. Scully, Evette Skinner, Daniel B. Sloan, Richard Stouthamer, Michael R. Strand, Nikolaus U. Szucsich, Asela Wijeratne, Neil D. Young, Eduardo E. Zattara, Joshua B. Benoit, Evgeny M. Zdobnov, Michael E. Pfrender, Kevin J. Hackett, John H. Werren, Kim C. Worley, Richard A. Gibbs, Ariel D. Chipman, Robert M. Waterhouse, Erich Bornberg-Bauer, Matthew W. Hahn, Stephen Richards*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


Background: Arthropods comprise the largest and most diverse phylum on Earth and play vital roles in nearly every ecosystem. Their diversity stems in part from variations on a conserved body plan, resulting from and recorded in adaptive changes in the genome. Dissection of the genomic record of sequence change enables broad questions regarding genome evolution to be addressed, even across hyper-diverse taxa within arthropods. Results: Using 76 whole genome sequences representing 21 orders spanning more than 500 million years of arthropod evolution, we document changes in gene and protein domain content and provide temporal and phylogenetic context for interpreting these innovations. We identify many novel gene families that arose early in the evolution of arthropods and during the diversification of insects into modern orders. We reveal unexpected variation in patterns of DNA methylation across arthropods and examples of gene family and protein domain evolution coincident with the appearance of notable phenotypic and physiological adaptations such as flight, metamorphosis, sociality, and chemoperception. Conclusions: These analyses demonstrate how large-scale comparative genomics can provide broad new insights into the genotype to phenotype map and generate testable hypotheses about the evolution of animal diversity.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number15
JournalGenome Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 23 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s).


  • Arthropods
  • DNA methylation
  • Evolution
  • Gene content
  • Genome assembly
  • Genomics
  • Protein domains


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