Eusociality Shapes Convergent Patterns of Molecular Evolution across Mitochondrial Genomes of Snapping Shrimps

Solomon T.C. Chak, Juan Antonio Baeza, Phillip Barden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Eusociality is a highly conspicuous and ecologically impactful behavioral syndrome that has evolved independently across multiple animal lineages. So far, comparative genomic analyses of advanced sociality have been mostly limited to insects. Here, we study the only clade of animals known to exhibit eusociality in the marine realm - lineages of socially diverse snapping shrimps in the genus Synalpheus. To investigate the molecular impact of sociality, we assembled the mitochondrial genomes of eight Synalpheus species that represent three independent origins of eusociality and analyzed patterns of molecular evolution in protein-coding genes. Synonymous substitution rates are lower and potential signals of relaxed purifying selection are higher in eusocial relative to noneusocial taxa. Our results suggest that mitochondrial genome evolution was shaped by eusociality-linked traits - extended generation times and reduced effective population sizes that are hallmarks of advanced animal societies. This is the first direct evidence of eusociality impacting genome evolution in marine taxa. Our results also strongly support the idea that eusociality can shape genome evolution through profound changes in life history and demography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1372-1383
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


  • crustacean
  • decapod
  • eusociality
  • genome evolution
  • low-coverage whole-genome sequencing
  • shrimp


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