The diversity and evolution of odorant receptors in beetles (Coleoptera)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The insect odorant receptors (ORs) are amongst the
largest gene families in insect genomes and the primary
means by which insects recognize volatile compounds.
The evolution of ORs is thus instrumental in
explaining the chemical ecology of insects and as a
model of evolutionary biology. However, although
ORs have been described from numerous insect species,
their analysis within and amongst the insect
orders has been hindered by a combination of limited
genomic information and a tendency of the OR family
toward rapid divergence, gain, and loss. We addressed
these issues in the insect order Coleoptera through a
targeted genomic annotation effort that included 1181
ORs from one species of the sister order Strepsiptera
and 10 species representing the four coleopteran suborders.
The numbers of ORs in each species varied
from hundreds to fewer than 10, but coleopteran ORs
could nevertheless be represented within a scheme
of nine monophyletic subfamilies. We observed many
radiations and losses of genes amongst OR subfamilies,
and the diversity of ORs appeared to parallel the
host breadth of the study species. However, some
small lineages of ORs persisted amongst many coleopteran
families, suggesting receptors of key function
that underlie the olfactory ecology of beetles.


External organisations
  • University of Wisconsin
  • University of Memphis
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Evolutionary Biology


  • chemoreceptors, chemical ecology, olfactory evolution, olfactory genetics
Original languageEnglish
Article number12611
Number of pages15
JournalInsect Molecular Biology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019 Aug 5
Publication categoryResearch

Related prizes

Martin N Andersson (Recipient), 2018

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