Adaptive Evolution of the African and Indonesian Coelacanths to Deep-Sea Environments

Gene. 2000 Dec 30;261(1):35-42. doi: 10.1016/s0378-1119(00)00474-1.


We have PCR amplified and sequenced the rhodopsin (RH1) and evolutionarily closely related RH2 genes of the Indonesian coelacanth, now referred to as Latimeria menadoensis. When the RH1 and RH2 coding sequences are constructed, expressed in cultured cells, and reconstituted with 11-cis-retinal, the resulting visual pigments have wavelengths of maximal absorption (lambda(max)) of 485 and 479 nm, respectively. These lambda(max) values are identical to those of the African coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae, showing that the Indonesian coelacanths also detect a narrow range of color. Statistical analyses show that the adaptation of the coelacanths toward the deep-sea started as early as 200 million years ago.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • COS Cells
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Fishes / genetics*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Models, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Point Mutation
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Pseudogenes
  • Retinal Pigments / analysis
  • Retinal Pigments / genetics
  • Rhodopsin / analysis
  • Rhodopsin / genetics*
  • Seawater
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Species Specificity
  • Spectrophotometry


  • Retinal Pigments
  • DNA
  • Rhodopsin