Molecular evolution of the plant R regulatory gene family

M. D. Purugganan, S. R. Wessler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anthocyanin pigmentation patterns in different plant species are controlled in part by members of the myc-like R regulatory gene family. We have examined the molecular evolution of this gene family in seven plant species. Three regions of the R protein show sequence conservation between monocot and dicot R genes. These regions encode the basic helix-loop-helix domain, as well as conserved N-terminal and C-terminal domains; mean replacement rates for these conserved regions are 1.02 x 10-9 nonsynonymous nucleotide substitutions per site per year. More than one-half of the protein, however, is diverging rapidly, with nonsynonymous substitution rates of 4.08 x 10-9 substitutions per site per year. Detailed analysis of R homologs within the grasses (Poaceae) confirm that these variable regions are indeed evolving faster than the flanking conserved domains. Both nucleotide substitutions and small insertion/deletions contribute to the diversification of the variable regions within these regulatory genes. These results demonstrate that large tracts of sequence in these regulatory loci are evolving at a fairly rapid rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)849-854
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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