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

t 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.


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Source:Cell Press


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