The genomic landscape of evolutionary convergence in mammals, birds and reptiles

Liron Levin, Dan Mishmar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many lineage-defining (nodal) mutations possess high functionality. However, differentiating adaptive nodal mutations from those that are functionally compensated remains challenging. To address this challenge, we identified functional nodal mutations (fNMs) in ∼3,400 nuclear DNA (nDNA) and 4 mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) protein structures from 91 and 1,003 species, respectively, representing the entire mammalian, bird and reptile phylogeny. A screen for candidate compensatory mutations among co-occurring amino acid changes in close structural proximity revealed that such compensated fNMs encompass 37% and 27% of the mtDNA and nDNA datasets, respectively. Analysis of the remaining (non-compensated) mutations, which are enriched for adaptive mutations, showed that birds and mammals share most such recurrent fNMs (N = 51). Among the latter, we discovered mutations in thermoregulation-related genes. These represent the best candidates to explain the molecular basis of convergent body thermoregulation in birds and mammals. Our analysis reveals the landscape of possible mutational compensation and convergence in amniote phylogeny.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number0041
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - 13 Feb 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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