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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2016-06-22
    Description: Reproductive traits in plants tend to evolve rapidly due to various causes that include plant-pollinator coevolution and pollen competition, but the genomic basis of reproductive trait evolution is still largely unknown. To characterize evolutionary patterns of genome wide gene expression in reproductive tissues in the gametophyte and to compare them to developmental stages of the sporophyte, we analyzed evolutionary conservation and genetic diversity of protein-coding genes using microarray-based transcriptome data from three plant species, Arabidopsis thaliana , rice ( Oryza sativa ), and soybean ( Glycine max ). In all three species a significant shift in gene expression occurs during gametogenesis in which genes of younger evolutionary age and higher genetic diversity contribute significantly more to the transcriptome than in other stages. We refer to this phenomenon as "evolutionary bulge" during plant reproductive development because it differentiates the gametophyte from the sporophyte. We show that multiple, not mutually exclusive, causes may explain the bulge pattern, most prominently reduced tissue complexity of the gametophyte, a varying extent of selection on reproductive traits during gametogenesis as well as differences between male and female tissues. This highlights the importance of plant reproduction for understanding evolutionary forces determining the relationship of genomic and phenotypic variation in plants.
    Print ISSN: 0737-4038
    Electronic ISSN: 1537-1719
    Topics: Biology
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2014-02-27
    Description: Sex-biased genes are genes with a preferential or specific expression in one sex and tend to show an accelerated rate of evolution in animals. Various hypotheses—which are not mutually exclusive—have been put forth to explain observed patterns of rapid evolution. One possible explanation is positive selection, but this has been shown only in few animal species and mostly for male-specific genes. Here, we present a large-scale study that investigates evolutionary patterns of sex-biased genes in the predominantly self-fertilizing plant Arabidopsis thaliana . Unlike most animal species, A. thaliana does not possess sex chromosomes, its flowers develop both male and female sexual organs, and it is characterized by low outcrossing rates. Using cell-specific gene expression data, we identified genes whose expression is enriched in comparison with all other tissues in the male and female gametes (sperm, egg, and central cell), as well as in synergids, pollen, and pollen tubes, which also play an important role in reproduction. Genes specifically expressed in gametes and synergids show higher rates of protein evolution compared with the genome-wide average and no evidence for positive selection. In contrast, pollen- and pollen tube-specific genes not only have lower rates of protein evolution but also exhibit a higher proportion of adaptive amino acid substitutions. We show that this is the result of increased levels of purifying and positive selection among genes with pollen- and pollen tube-specific expression. The increased proportion of adaptive substitutions cannot be explained by the fact that pollen- and pollen tube-expressed genes are enriched in segmental duplications, are on average older, or have a larger effective population size. Our observations are consistent with prezygotic sexual selection as a result of interactions during pollination and pollen tube growth such as pollen tube competition.
    Print ISSN: 0737-4038
    Electronic ISSN: 1537-1719
    Topics: Biology
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2015-11-17
    Description: The combination of Reverse Transcription (RT) and high-throughput sequencing has emerged as a powerful combination to detect modified nucleotides in RNA via analysis of either abortive RT-products or of the incorporation of mismatched dNTPs into cDNA. Here we simultaneously analyze both parameters in detail with respect to the occurrence of N -1-methyladenosine (m 1 A) in the template RNA. This naturally occurring modification is associated with structural effects, but it is also known as a mediator of antibiotic resistance in ribosomal RNA. In structural probing experiments with dimethylsulfate, m 1 A is routinely detected by RT-arrest. A specifically developed RNA-Seq protocol was tailored to the simultaneous analysis of RT-arrest and misincorporation patterns. By application to a variety of native and synthetic RNA preparations, we found a characteristic signature of m 1 A, which, in addition to an arrest rate, features misincorporation as a significant component. Detailed analysis suggests that the signature depends on RNA structure and on the nature of the nucleotide 3' of m 1 A in the template RNA, meaning it is sequence dependent. The RT-signature of m 1 A was used for inspection and confirmation of suspected modification sites and resulted in the identification of hitherto unknown m 1 A residues in trypanosomal tRNA.
    Keywords: Nucleic acid modification
    Print ISSN: 0305-1048
    Electronic ISSN: 1362-4962
    Topics: Biology
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2013-02-06
    Description: The transcriptome and proteome of Arabidopsis thaliana are reduced in nitrogen content when compared with other taxa, which may result from ecological nitrogen limitation. We hypothesized that if the A. thaliana transcriptome is selected for a low nitrogen content, nitrogen-reducing derived alleles of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) should segregate at higher frequencies than nitrogen-increasing alleles. This pattern should be stronger in populations with a larger effective population size ( N e ) if natural selection is more efficient in large than in small populations. We analyzed variation in the nitrogen content in the transcriptome of 80 natural accessions of A. thaliana . In contrast to our expectations, derived alleles increase the nitrogen content in all accessions, and there is a positive correlation between nitrogen difference and derived allele frequency, which is strongest with nonsynonymous SNPs (nsSNPs). Also, there is a positive correlation between nitrogen difference and N e that was mainly caused by nsSNPs. These observations led us to reject the hypothesis that the transcriptome of A. thaliana is currently under selection to reduce nitrogen content. Instead, we show that a change in nitrogen content is a side effect of interacting evolutionary factors that influence base composition and include mutational bias, purifying selection of functionally deleterious alleles, and GC-biased gene conversion. We provide strong evidence that GC-biased gene conversion may play an important role for base composition in the highly selfing plant A. thaliana .
    Print ISSN: 0737-4038
    Electronic ISSN: 1537-1719
    Topics: Biology
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