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Title: Reproductive Proteins Evolve Faster Than Non-reproductive Proteins Among Solanum Species
Elevated rates of evolution in reproductive proteins are commonly observed in animal species, and are thought to be driven by the action of sexual selection and sexual conflict acting specifically on reproductive traits. Whether similar patterns are broadly observed in other biological groups is equivocal. Here, we examine patterns of protein divergence among wild tomato species ( Solanum section Lycopersicon ), to understand forces shaping the evolution of reproductive genes in this diverse, rapidly evolving plant clade. By comparing rates of molecular evolution among loci expressed in reproductive and non-reproductive tissues, our aims were to test if: (a) reproductive-specific loci evolve more rapidly, on average, than non-reproductive loci; (b) ‘male’-specific loci evolve at different rates than ‘female’-specific loci; (c) genes expressed exclusively in gametophytic (haploid) tissue evolve differently from genes expressed in sporophytic (diploid) tissue or in both tissue types; and (d) mating system variation (a potential proxy for the expected strength of sexual selection and/or sexual conflict) affects patterns of protein evolution. We observed elevated evolutionary rates in reproductive proteins. However, this pattern was most evident for female- rather than male-specific loci, both broadly and for individual loci inferred to be positively selected. These elevated rates might be facilitated by greater tissue-specificity of reproductive proteins, as faster rates were also associated with more narrow expression domains. In contrast, we found little evidence that evolutionary rates are consistently different in loci experiencing haploid selection (gametophytic-exclusive loci), or in lineages with quantitatively different mating systems. Overall while reproductive protein evolution is generally elevated in this diverse plant group, some specific patterns of evolution are more complex than those reported in other (largely animal) systems, and include a more prominent role for female-specific loci among adaptively evolving genes.  more » « less
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Frontiers in Plant Science
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National Science Foundation
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