The genome of the water strider Gerris buenoi reveals expansions of gene repertoires associated with adaptations to life on the water
The semi-aquatic bugs conquered water surfaces worldwide and occupy ponds, streams, lakes, mangroves, and even open oceans. As such, they inspired a range of scientific studies from ecology and evolution to developmental genetics and hydrodynamics of fluid locomotion. However, the lack of a representative water strider genome hinders thorough investigations of the mechanisms underlying the processes of adaptation and diversification in this group. Here we report the sequencing and manual
... g and manual annotation of the Gerris buenoi (G. buenoi) genome, the first water strider genome to be sequenced so far. G. buenoi genome is about 1 000Mb and the sequencing effort recovered 20 949 predicted protein-coding genes. Manual annotation uncovered a number of local (tandem and proximal) gene duplications and expansions of gene families known for their importance in a variety of processes associated with morphological and physiological adaptations to water surface lifestyle. These expansions affect key processes such as growth, vision, desiccation resistance, detoxification, olfaction and epigenetic components. Strikingly, the G. buenoi genome contains three Insulin Receptors, a unique case among metazoans, suggesting key changes in the rewiring and function of the insulin pathway. Other genomic changes include wavelength sensitivity shifts in opsin proteins likely in association with the requirements of vision in water habitats. Our findings suggest that local gene duplications might have had an important role during the evolution of water striders. These findings along with the G. buenoi genome open exciting research opportunities to understand adaptation and genome evolution of this unique hemimetabolous insect.