Gene duplication and divergence of long wavelength-sensitive opsin genes in the guppy, Poecilia reticulata

J Mol Evol. 2011 Feb;72(2):240-52. doi: 10.1007/s00239-010-9426-z. Epub 2010 Dec 18.


Female preference for male orange coloration in the genus Poecilia suggests a role for duplicated long wavelength-sensitive (LWS) opsin genes in facilitating behaviors related to mate choice in these species. Previous work has shown that LWS gene duplication in this genus has resulted in expansion of long wavelength visual capacity as determined by microspectrophotometry (MSP). However, the relationship between LWS genomic repertoires and expression of LWS retinal cone classes within a given species is unclear. Our previous study in the related species, Xiphophorus helleri, was the first characterization of the complete LWS opsin genomic repertoire in conjunction with MSP expression data in the family Poeciliidae, and revealed the presence of four LWS loci and two distinct LWS cone classes. In this study we characterized the genomic organization of LWS opsin genes by BAC clone sequencing, and described the full range of cone cell types in the retina of the colorful Cumaná guppy, Poecilia reticulata. In contrast to X. helleri, MSP data from the Cumaná guppy revealed three LWS cone classes. Comparisons of LWS genomic organization described here for Cumaná to that of X. helleri indicate that gene divergence and not duplication was responsible for the evolution of a novel LWS haplotype in the Cumaná guppy. This lineage-specific divergence is likely responsible for a third additional retinal cone class not present in X. helleri, and may have facilitated the strong sexual selection driven by female preference for orange color patterns associated with the genus Poecilia.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Cone Opsins / genetics*
  • Cone Opsins / metabolism
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Exons
  • Female
  • Gene Duplication*
  • Genetic Speciation
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Introns
  • Male
  • Mating Preference, Animal
  • Phylogeny
  • Poecilia / genetics*
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Untranslated Regions


  • Cone Opsins
  • Untranslated Regions