Extraordinary diversity of chemosensory receptor gene repertoires among vertebrates

Results Probl Cell Differ. 2009;47:1-23. doi: 10.1007/400_2008_4.


Chemosensation (smell and taste) is important to the survival and reproduction of vertebrates and is mediated by specific bindings of odorants, pheromones, and tastants by chemoreceptors that are encoded by several large gene families. This review summarizes recent comparative genomic and evolutionary studies of vertebrate chemoreceptor genes. It focuses on the remarkable diversity of chemoreceptor gene repertoires in terms of gene number and gene sequence across vertebrates and the evolutionary mechanisms that are responsible for generating this diversity. We argue that the great among-species variation of chemoreceptor gene repertoires is a result of adaptations of individual species to their environments and diets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Humans
  • Phylogeny*
  • Receptors, Odorant / classification
  • Receptors, Odorant / genetics*
  • Taste Perception / genetics
  • Vertebrates / classification
  • Vertebrates / genetics*


  • Receptors, Odorant