Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Tree and sequence alignment used for diet reconstruction of Laurasiatheria

Citation

Wu, Yonghua (2021), Tree and sequence alignment used for diet reconstruction of Laurasiatheria, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.3tx95x6gz

Abstract

Background: Laurasiatheria contains taxa with diverse diets, while the molecular basis and evolutionary history underlying their dietary diversification are less clear.

Results: In this study, we used the recently developed molecular phyloecological approach to examine the adaptive evolution of digestive system-related genes across both carnivorous and herbivorous mammals within Laurasiatheria. Our results show an intensified selection of fat and/or protein utilization across all examined carnivorous lineages, which is consistent with their high-protein and high-fat diets. Intriguingly, for herbivorous lineages (ungulates), which have a high-carbohydrate diet, they show a similar selection pattern as that of carnivorous lineages. Our results suggest that for the ungulates, which have a specialized digestive system, the selection intensity of their digestive system-related genes does not necessarily reflect loads of the nutrient components in their diets but appears to be positively related to the loads of the nutrient components that are capable of being directly utilized by the herbivores themselves. Based on these findings, we reconstructed the dietary evolution within Laurasiatheria, and our results reveal the dominant carnivory during the early diversification of Laurasiatheria. In particular, our results suggest that the ancestral bats and the common ancestor of ruminants and cetaceans may be carnivorous as well. We also found evidence of the convergent evolution of one fat utilization-related gene, APOB, across carnivorous taxa.

Conclusions: Our molecular phyloecological results suggest that digestive system-related genes can be used to determine the molecular basis of diet differentiations and to reconstruct ancestral diets.