Parallel amino acid replacements in the rhodopsins of the rockfishes (Sebastes spp.) associated with shifts in habitat depth.
Among various groups of fishes, a shift in peak wavelength sensitivity has been correlated with changes in their photic environments. The genus Sebastes is a radiation of marine fish species that inhabit a wide range of depths from intertidal to over 600 m. We examined 32 species of Sebastes for evidence of adaptive amino acid substitution at the rhodopsin gene. Fourteen amino acid positions were variable among these species. Maximum likelihood analyses identify several of these to be targets of positive selection. None of these correspond to previously identified critical amino acid sites, yet they may in fact be functionally important. The occurrence of independent parallel changes at certain amino acid positions reinforces this idea. Reconstruction of habitat depths of ancestral nodes in the phylogeny suggests that shallow habitats have been colonized independently in different lineages. The evolution of rhodopsin appears to be associated with changes in depth, with accelerated evolution in lineages that have had large changes in depth.
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