Differentially expressed genes associated with adaptation to different thermal environments in three sympatric Cuban Anolis lizards

Hiroshi D. Akashi, Antonio Cádiz Díaz, Shuji Shigenobu, Takashi Makino, Masakado Kawata

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)


    How animals achieve evolutionary adaptation to different thermal environments is an important issue for evolutionary biology as well as for biodiversity conservation in the context of recent global warming. In Cuba, three sympatric species of Anolis lizards (Anolis allogus, A. homolechis and A. sagrei) inhabit different thermal microhabitats, thereby providing an excellent opportunity to examine how they have adapted to different environmental temperatures. Here, we performed RNA-seq on the brain, liver and skin tissues from these three species to analyse their transcriptional responses at two different temperatures. In total, we identified 400, 816 and 781 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between the two temperatures in A. allogus, A. homolechis and A. sagrei, respectively. Only 62 of these DEGs were shared across the three species, indicating that global transcriptional responses have diverged among these species. Gene ontology (GO) analysis showed that large numbers of ribosomal protein genes were DEGs in the warm-adapted A. homolechis, suggesting that the upregulation of protein synthesis is an important physiological mechanism in the adaptation of this species to hotter environments. GO analysis also showed that GO terms associated with circadian regulation were enriched in all three species. A gene associated with circadian regulation, Nr1d1, was detected as a DEG with opposite expression patterns between the cool-adapted A. allogus and the hot-adapted A. sagrei. Because the environmental temperature fluctuates more widely in open habitats than in forests throughout the day, the circadian thermoregulation could also be important for adaptation to distinct thermal habitats.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2273-2285
    Number of pages13
    JournalMolecular ecology
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Anolis lizards
    • RNA-seq
    • brain
    • differential gene expression
    • liver
    • skin
    • sympatric species
    • thermal adaptation
    • transcriptomics

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
    • Genetics


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