Targeted sequencing for high-resolution evolutionary analyses following genome duplication in salmonid fish: Proof of concept for key components of the insulin-like growth factor axis

Fiona M Lappin, Rebecca L Shaw, Daniel J Macqueen

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High-throughput sequencing has revolutionised comparative and evolutionary genome biology. It has now become relatively commonplace to generate multiple genomes and/or transcriptomes to characterize the evolution of large taxonomic groups of interest. Nevertheless, such efforts may be unsuited to some research questions or remain beyond the scope of some research groups. Here we show that targeted high-throughput sequencing offers a viable alternative to study genome evolution across a vertebrate family of great scientific interest. Specifically, we exploited sequence capture and Illumina sequencing to characterize the evolution of key components from the insulin-like growth (IGF) signalling axis of salmonid fish at unprecedented phylogenetic resolution. The IGF axis represents a central governor of vertebrate growth and its core components were expanded by whole genome duplication in the salmonid ancestor ~95Ma. Using RNA baits synthesised to genes encoding the complete family of IGF binding proteins (IGFBP) and an IGF hormone (IGF2), we captured, sequenced and assembled orthologous and paralogous exons from species representing all ten salmonid genera. This approach generated 299 novel sequences, most as complete or near-complete protein-coding sequences. Phylogenetic analyses confirmed congruent evolutionary histories for all nineteen recognized salmonid IGFBP family members and identified novel salmonid-specific IGF2 paralogues. Moreover, we reconstructed the evolution of duplicated IGF axis paralogues across a replete salmonid phylogeny, revealing complex historic selection regimes - both ancestral to salmonids and lineage-restricted - that frequently involved asymmetric paralogue divergence under positive and/or relaxed purifying selection. Our findings add to an emerging literature highlighting diverse applications for targeted sequencing in comparative-evolutionary genomics. We also set out a viable approach to obtain large sets of nuclear genes for any member of the salmonid family, which should enable insights into the evolutionary role of whole genome duplication before additional nuclear genome sequences become available.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15–26
Number of pages12
JournalMarine Genomics
Early online date23 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

This study was funded by a Natural Environment Research Council grant (NERC, project code: NBAF704). FML is funded by a NERC Doctoral Training Grant (Project Reference: NE/L50175X/1). RLS was an undergraduate student at the University of Aberdeen and benefitted from financial support from the School of Biological Sciences. DJM is indebted to Dr. Steven Weiss (University of Graz, Austria), Dr. Takashi Yada (National Research Institute of Fisheries Science, Japan), Dr. Robert Devlin (Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canada), Prof. Samuel Martin (University of Aberdeen, UK), Mr. Neil Lincoln (Environment Agency, UK) and Prof. Colin Adams/Mr. Stuart Wilson (University of Glasgow, UK) for providing salmonid material or assisting with its sampling. We are grateful to staff at the Centre for Genomics Research (University of Liverpool, UK) (i.e. NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility – Liverpool; NBAF-Liverpool) for performing sequence capture/Illumina sequencing and providing us with details on associated methods that were incorporated into the manuscript. Finally, we are grateful to the organizers of the Society of Experimental Biology Satellite meeting 'Genome-powered perspectives in integrative physiology and evolutionary biology' (held in Prague, July 2015) for inviting us to contribute to this special edition of Marine Genomics and hosting a really stimulating meeting.


  • sequence capture
  • target enrichment
  • second-generation sequencing
  • whole genome duplication
  • salmonid fish
  • insulin-like growth factor axis


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