Molecular evolution and sensory performance in bats

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Biological Sciences

Abstract

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Description We made substantial progress in sequencing key genes associated with sensory specialisations and also genes associated with digestion (Cui et al. 2011a,b; Liu et al. 2012) and hibernation (Yuan et al. 2012) to characterise the pattern and tempo of molecular evolution of these genes in bats. We advanced studies on sensory performance by showing how moth scales offer protection against echolocating bats (Zeng et al. 2011). Research is using knockdown methods to elucidate gene function (Chen et al. 2012) and the potential of these methods for elucidating the functions of genes associated with echolocation (FoxP2 - Chen et al. 2012) and hibernation (leptin - Zhu et al. submitted) is revealing great promise. In addition we published work on molecular ecology and gene introgression in bat populations (Mao et al. 2012) and provided an interesting example of 'progressive pseudogenzation' whereby step-by-step stages in loss-of-function of genes associated with Vitamin C synthesis were identified (Cui et al. 2011a,b). Whole genome sequences of bats have been produced in SJR and SZ's laboratories, though the assembly of their genomes is time consuming and results from them will attain more potential in the future. We have thus relied on whole genome sequences of other mammals to identify candidate genes associated with hearing and vision.
Exploitation Route May be informative for scientists working on molecular evolution of animal sensing.
Sectors Environment