The insect chemoreceptor superfamily is ancient in animals

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The insect chemoreceptor superfamily consists of 2 gene families, the highly diverse gustatory receptors (GRs) found in all arthropods with sequenced genomes and the odorant receptors that evolved from a GR lineage and have been found only in insects to date. Here, I describe relatives of the insect chemoreceptor superfamily, specifically the basal GR family, in diverse other animals, showing that the superfamily dates back at least to early animal evolution. GR-Like (GRL) genes are present in the genomes of the placozoan Trichoplax adhaerens, an anemone Nematostella vectensis, a coral Acropora digitifera, a polychaete Capitella teleta, a leech Helobdella robusta, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (and many other nematodes), 3 molluscs (a limpet Lottia gigantea, an oyster Crassostrea gigas, and the sea hare Aplysia californica), the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, and the sea acorn Saccoglossus kowalevskii. While some of these animals contain multiple divergent GRL lineages, GRLs have been lost entirely from other animal lineages such as vertebrates. GRLs are absent from the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi, the demosponge Amphimedon queenslandica, and 2 available chaonoflagellate genomes, so it remains unclear whether this superfamily originated before or during animal evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-614
Number of pages6
JournalChemical Senses
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2015


  • Gene family evolution
  • Gustatory receptor
  • Smell
  • Taste

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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