Little is known about the genetic basis of convergent traits that originate repeatedly over broad taxonomic scales. The myogenic electric organ has evolved six times in fishes to produce electric fields used in communication, navigation, predation, or defense. We have examined the genomic basis of the convergent anatomical and physiological origins of these organs by assembling the genome of the electric eel (Electrophorus electricus) and sequencing electric organ and skeletal muscle transcriptomes from three lineages that have independently evolved electric organs. Our results indicate that, despite millions of years of evolution and large differences in the morphology of electric organ cells, independent lineages have leveraged similar transcription factors and developmental and cellular pathways in the evolution of electric organs.
Later I will write more about the biology and bioinformatics aspects, but for the time being, many thanks to many blog readers, who helped me with codes and suggestions on bioinformatics. I tried to acknowledge all relevant ones I could think of (Ruibang Luo, Rayan Chikhi, Jared Simpson), but many thanks to others I may have inadvertently missed.