The Evolution of a High Copy Gene Array in Arabidopsis
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1007/s00239-010-9350-2
Local gene duplication is a prominent mechanism of gene copy number expansion. Elucidating the mechanisms by which local duplicates arise is necessary in understanding the evolution of genomes and their host organisms. Chromosome one of Arabidopsis thaliana contains an 81-gene array subdivided into 27 triplet units (t-units), with each t-unit containing three pre-transfer RNA genes. We utilized phylogenetic tree reconstructions and comparative genomics to order the events leading to the array’s formation, and propose a model using unequal crossing-over as the primary mechanism of array formation. The model is supported by additional phylogenetic information from intergenic spacer sequences separating each t-unit, comparative analysis to an orthologous array of 12 t-units in the sister taxa Arabidopsis lyrata, and additional modeling using a stochastic simulation of orthologous array divergence. Lastly, comparative phylogenetic analysis demonstrates that the two orthologous t-unit arrays undergo concerted evolution within each taxa and are likely fluctuating in copy number under neutral evolutionary drift. These findings hold larger implications for future research concerning gene and genome evolution.