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  1. Morrell, P (Ed.)
    Abstract By modeling the homoeologous gene losses that occurred in 50 genomes deriving from ten distinct polyploidy events, we show that the evolutionary forces acting on polyploids are remarkably similar, regardless of whether they occur in flowering plants, ciliates, fishes, or yeasts. We show that many of the events show a relative rate of duplicate gene loss before the first postpolyploidy speciation that is significantly higher than in later phases of their evolution. The relatively weak selective constraint experienced by the single-copy genes these losses produced leads us to suggest that most of the purely selectively neutral duplicate gene losses occur in the immediate postpolyploid period. Nearly all of the events show strong evidence of biases in the duplicate losses, consistent with them being allopolyploidies, with 2 distinct progenitors contributing to the modern species. We also find ongoing and extensive reciprocal gene losses (alternative losses of duplicated ancestral genes) between these genomes. With the exception of a handful of closely related taxa, all of these polyploid organisms are separated from each other by tens to thousands of reciprocal gene losses. As a result, it is very unlikely that viable diploid hybrid species could form between these taxa, since matings betweenmore »such hybrids would tend to produce offspring lacking essential genes. It is, therefore, possible that the relatively high frequency of recurrent polyploidies in some lineages may be due to the ability of new polyploidies to bypass reciprocal gene loss barriers.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 22, 2023
  2. Abstract

    Ethiopian mustard (Brassica carinata) is an ancient crop with remarkable stress resilience and a desirable seed fatty acid profile for biofuel uses. Brassica carinata is one of six Brassica species that share three major genomes from three diploid species (AA, BB, and CC) that spontaneously hybridized in a pairwise manner to form three allotetraploid species (AABB, AACC, and BBCC). Of the genomes of these species, that of B. carinata is the least understood. Here, we report a chromosome scale 1.31-Gbp genome assembly with 156.9-fold sequencing coverage for B. carinata, completing the reference genomes comprising the classic Triangle of U, a classical theory of the evolutionary relationships among these six species. Our assembly provides insights into the hybridization event that led to the current B. carinata genome and the genomic features that gave rise to the superior agronomic traits of B. carinata. Notably, we identified an expansion of transcription factor networks and agronomically important gene families. Completion of the Triangle of U comparative genomics platform has allowed us to examine the dynamics of polyploid evolution and the role of subgenome dominance in the domestication and continuing agronomic improvement of B. carinata and other Brassica species.

  3. null (Ed.)
    Plants produce diverse metabolites to cope with the challenges presented by complex and ever-changing environments. These challenges drive the diversification of specialized metabolites within and between plant species. However, we are just beginning to understand how frequently new alleles arise controlling specialized metabolite diversity and how the geographic distribution of these alleles may be structured by ecological and demographic pressures. Here we measure the variation in specialized metabolites across a population of 797 natural Arabidopsis thaliana accessions. We show a combination of geography, environmental parameters, demography, and different genetic processes all combine to influence the specific chemotypes and their distribution. This showed that causal loci in specialized metabolism contain frequent independently generated alleles with patterns suggesting potential within species convergence. This provides a new perspective about the complexity of the selective forces and mechanisms that shape the generation and distribution of allelic variation that may influence local adaptation.
  4. Plants are often attacked by insects and other herbivores. As a result, they have evolved to defend themselves by producing many different chemicals that are toxic to these pests. As producing each chemical costs energy, individual plants often only produce one type of chemical that is targeted towards their main herbivore. Related species of plants often use the same type of chemical defense so, if a particular herbivore gains the ability to cope with this chemical, it may rapidly become an important pest for the whole plant family. To escape this threat, some plants have gained the ability to produce more than one type of chemical defense. Wallflowers, for example, are a group of plants in the mustard family that produce two types of toxic chemicals: mustard oils, which are common in most plants in this family; and cardenolides, which are an innovation of the wallflowers, and which are otherwise found only in distantly related plants such as foxglove and milkweed. The combination of these two chemical defenses within the same plant may have allowed the wallflowers to escape attacks from their main herbivores and may explain why the number of wallflower species rapidly increased within the last two millionmore »years. Züst et al. have now studied the diversity of mustard oils and cardenolides present in many different species of wallflower. This analysis revealed that almost all of the tested wallflower species produced high amounts of both chemical defenses, while only one species lacked the ability to produce cardenolides. The levels of mustard oils had no relation to the levels of cardenolides in the tested species, which suggests that the regulation of these two defenses is not linked. Furthermore, Züst et al. found that closely related wallflower species produced more similar cardenolides, but less similar mustard oils, to each other. This suggests that mustard oils and cardenolides have evolved independently in wallflowers and have distinct roles in the defense against different herbivores. The evolution of insect resistance to pesticides and other toxins is an important concern for agriculture. Applying multiple toxins to crops at the same time is an important strategy to slow the evolution of resistance in the pests. The findings of Züst et al. describe a system in which plants have naturally evolved an equivalent strategy to escape their main herbivores. Understanding how plants produce multiple chemical defenses, and the costs involved, may help efforts to breed crop species that are more resistant to herbivores and require fewer applications of pesticides.« less