Whole-genome duplication in teleost fishes and its evolutionary consequences

Mol Genet Genomics. 2014 Dec;289(6):1045-60. doi: 10.1007/s00438-014-0889-2. Epub 2014 Aug 5.


Whole-genome duplication (WGD) events have shaped the history of many evolutionary lineages. One such duplication has been implicated in the evolution of teleost fishes, by far the most species-rich vertebrate clade. After initial controversy, there is now solid evidence that such event took place in the common ancestor of all extant teleosts. It is termed teleost-specific (TS) WGD. After WGD, duplicate genes have different fates. The most likely outcome is non-functionalization of one duplicate gene due to the lack of selective constraint on preserving both. Mechanisms that act on preservation of duplicates are subfunctionalization (partitioning of ancestral gene functions on the duplicates), neofunctionalization (assigning a novel function to one of the duplicates) and dosage selection (preserving genes to maintain dosage balance between interconnected components). Since the frequency of these mechanisms is influenced by the genes' properties, there are over-retained classes of genes, such as highly expressed ones and genes involved in neural function. The consequences of the TS-WGD, especially its impact on the massive radiation of teleosts, have been matter of controversial debate. It is evident that gene duplications are crucial for generating complexity and that WGDs provide large amounts of raw material for evolutionary adaptation and innovation. However, it is less clear whether the TS-WGD is directly linked to the evolutionary success of teleosts and their radiation. Recent studies let us conclude that TS-WGD has been important in generating teleost complexity, but that more recent ecological adaptations only marginally related to TS-WGD might have even contributed more to diversification. It is likely, however, that TS-WGD provided teleosts with diversification potential that can become effective much later, such as during phases of environmental change.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Fishes / classification
  • Fishes / genetics*
  • Gene Conversion
  • Gene Dosage
  • Gene Duplication*
  • Genome*