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Positive selection and comparative molecular evolution of reproductive proteins from New Zealand tree weta (Orthoptera, Hemideina)

  • Victoria G. Twort
  • Alice B. Dennis
  • Duckchul Park
  • Kathryn F. Lomas
  • Richard D. Newcomb
  • Thomas R. Buckley
Publishing year: 2017-11-01
Language: English
Publication/Series: PLoS ONE
Volume: 12
Issue: 11
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Public Library of Science

Abstract english

Animal reproductive proteins, especially those in the seminal fluid, have been shown to have higher levels of divergence than non-reproductive proteins and are often evolving adaptively. Seminal fluid proteins have been implicated in the formation of reproductive barriers between diverging lineages, and hence represent interesting candidates underlying speciation. RNA-seq was used to generate the first male reproductive transcriptome for the New Zealand tree weta species Hemideina thoracica and H. crassidens. We identified 865 putative reproductive associated proteins across both species, encompassing a diverse range of functional classes. Candidate gene sequencing of nine genes across three Hemideina, and two Deinacrida species suggests that H. thoracica has the highest levels of intraspecific genetic diversity. Non-monophyly was observed in the majority of sequenced genes indicating that either gene flow may be occurring between the species, or that reciprocal monophyly at these loci has yet to be attained. Evidence for positive selection was found for one lectin-related reproductive protein, with an overall omega of 7.65 and one site in particular being under strong positive selection. This candidate gene represents the first step in the identification of proteins underlying the evolutionary basis of weta reproduction and speciation.


  • Genetics
  • Evolutionary Biology


  • ISSN: 1932-6203
Victoria Twort
E-mail: victoria [dot] twort [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Postdoctoral fellow


Sölvegatan 37, Lund


Research group

Systematic Biology Group



Postdoc host

Niklas Wahlberg