LysM receptor kinases were identified as receptors of acy-lated chitin (Nod factors) or chitin produced by plant-interacting microbes. Here, we present the identification and characterization of the LysM receptor kinase gene (Lys) family (17 members) in Lotus japonicus. Comprehensive phylogenetic analysis revealed a correlation between Lys gene structure and phylogeny. Further mapping coupled with sequence-based anchoring on the genome showed that the family has probably expanded by a combination of tan-dem and segmental duplication events. Using a sliding-win-dow approach, we identified distinct regions in the LysM and kinase domains of recently diverged Lys genes where positive selection may have shaped ligand interaction. Inter-estingly, in the case of NFR5 and its closest paralog, LYS11, one of these regions coincides with the predicted Nod-factor binding groove and the suggested specificity determining area of the second LysM domain. One hypothesis for the evolutionary diversification of this receptor family in leg-umes is their unique capacity to decipher various struc-tures of chitin-derived molecules produced by an extended spectrum of interacting organisms: symbiotic, associative, endophytic, and parasitic. In a detailed expression analysis, we found several Lotus Lys genes regulated not only during the symbiotic association with Mesorhizobium loti but also in response to chitin treatment.