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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  2. Townsend, Jeffrey (Ed.)
    Abstract Dissecting the relationship between gene function and substitution rates is key to understanding genome-wide patterns of molecular evolution. Biochemical pathways provide powerful systems for investigating this relationship because the functional role of each gene is often well characterized. Here, we investigate the evolution of the flavonoid pigment pathway in the colorful Petunieae clade of the tomato family (Solanaceae). This pathway is broadly conserved in plants, both in terms of its structural elements and its MYB, basic helix–loop–helix, and WD40 transcriptional regulators, and its function has been extensively studied, particularly in model species of petunia. We built a phylotranscriptomic data set for 69 species of Petunieae to infer patterns of molecular evolution across pathway genes and across lineages. We found that transcription factors exhibit faster rates of molecular evolution (dN/dS) than their targets, with the highly specialized MYB genes evolving fastest. Using the largest comparative data set to date, we recovered little support for the hypothesis that upstream enzymes evolve slower than those occupying more downstream positions, although expression levels do predict molecular evolutionary rates. Although shifts in floral pigmentation were only weakly related to changes affecting coding regions, we found a strong relationship with the presence/absence patterns of MYBmore »transcripts. Intensely pigmented species express all three main MYB anthocyanin activators in petals, whereas pale or white species express few or none. Our findings reinforce the notion that pathway regulators have a dynamic history, involving higher rates of molecular evolution than structural components, along with frequent changes in expression during color transitions.« less
  3. Abstract

    Variation in mating systems is prevalent throughout angiosperms, with many transitions between outcrossing and selfing above and below the species level. This study documents a new case of an intraspecific breakdown of self-incompatibility in a wild relative of tomatillo, Physalis acutifolia. We used controlled greenhouse crosses to identify self-incompatible (SI) and self-compatible (SC) individuals grown from seed sampled across seven sites across Arizona and New Mexico. We measured 14 flower and fruit traits to test for trait variation associated with mating system. We also quantified pollen tube growth in vivo and tested for the presence of the S-RNase proteins in SI and SC styles. We found that seed from six of the seven sites produced SI individuals that terminated self-pollen tubes in the style and showed detectable S-RNase expression. By contrast, seed from one Arizona site produced SC individuals with no S-RNase expression. These SC individuals displayed typical selfing-syndrome traits such as smaller corollas, reduced stigma–anther distances, and a smaller pollen–ovule ratio. We also found plasticity in self-incompatibility as most of the SI individuals became SC and lost S-RNase expression roughly after 6 months in the greenhouse. While fixed differences in mating systems are known among the SI wildmore »species and the often SC domesticated tomatillos, our study is the first to demonstrate intraspecific variation in natural populations as well as variation in SI over an individual’s lifespan.

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