Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Analysis of flower genes reveals the fate of an ancient gene duplication


In a step that advances our ability to discern the ancient evolutionary relationships between different genes and their biological functions, researchers have provided insight into the present-day outcome of a single gene duplication that occurred over a hundred million years ago in an ancestor of modern plants. The work is reported in Current Biology by a team led by Brendan Davies of the University of Leeds, England.

Gene duplication--a relatively uncommon event in which a single copy of a gene is transformed into two separate copies--is thought to play a key role in the evolution of new gene functions. Duplications are important because they effectively allow at least one of the gene copies to evolve while the (likely important) function of the original gene can remain intact. In this way, the duplication of pre-existing genetic information provides the raw material from which new gene functions can evolve, thereby contributing to the evolution of genetic complexity and the evolution of sophisticated life forms.

Very many such gene-duplication events have shaped the evolution of today’s living species, but tracing the evolution of a specific single gene over millions of years of evolution--and over potentially several gene-duplication events--can pose a significant challenge. One way in which this can be overcome is for researchers studying a particular modern-day gene to look at neighboring genes in different related species. Genes derived from a common ancestral gene region will still share similarities in neighboring gene sequences, both in terms of gene identity and the order such sequences appear within the chromosome. This kind of preserved gene order is known as genome synteny.

In the new work, researchers have used synteny to clarify the evolution of genes essential for the development of floral reproductive organs, stamens and carpels. The subjects of their work were two genes that appear to play identical functions in two different plant species: the AGAMOUS (AG) gene of the mustard plant Arabidopsis thaliana and the PLENA (PLE) gene of the snapdragon, Antirrhinum majus. Both genes are required for the development of flower reproductive structures, and when these genes are mutated, the plants form so-called double flowers, in which petals and sepals replace stamens and carpels. AG and PLE are very closely related genes, and they clearly have nearly identical function, suggesting that they are derived from the same single gene inherited from a common ancestor. However, analysis of synteny in the AG and PLE regions unambiguously showed that AG and PLE are not derived from the same ancestral gene, but that they instead represent two different products of a gene-duplication event that occurred around 125 million years ago in a common ancestor of Arabidopsis and Antirrhinum. The other genes created in that ancient gene-duplication event became altered, in different ways, so that they now have new functions in Arabidopsis and Antirrhinum.

These findings provide one of the first demonstrations of how an essential developmental function can be randomly assigned to either product of a gene-duplication event. The work defines a new standard for the evidence required to establish the evolutionary relationships of genes from different species.

Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>