Pheromones were identified as chemical signals used for intraspecific communication in insects (e.g., sexual attraction) in the 1950s. However, only almost 40 years later the vomeronasal receptors type-1 (V1R) and type-2 (V2R) were identified, usually associated with the presence of a vomeronasal organ (VNO). VRs are widespread in amphibians, reptiles, and mammals, but birds lost the VNO. Similarly, fishes lack VRs and a VNO but can still detect pheromones, instead using the olfactory receptors related to class A and class C G protein–coupled receptors. Here, we review recent evidence on VR repertoire contraction/expansion in vertebrates. We assess the association between VNO development and VR repertoire size. Phylogenetic relationships and selective pressures illuminate the dynamic evolutionary history of the VRs in vertebrates.


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