Molecular population genetics of redundant floral-regulatory genes in Arabidopsis thaliana

Richard C. Moore, Sarah R. Grant, Michael D. Purugganan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Functional redundancy between duplicated genes is predicted to be transitory, as one gene either loses its function or gains a new function, or both genes accrue degenerative, yet complimentary mutations, Yet there are many examples where functional redundancy has been maintained between gene duplicates. To determine whether selection is acting on functionally redundant gene duplicates, we performed molecular evolution and population genetic analyses between two pairs of functionally redundant MADS-box genes from the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana: SEPALLATA1 (SEP1) and SEPALLATA2 (SEP2), involved in floral organ identity, and SHATTERPROOF1 (SHP1) and SHATTERPROOF1 (SHP2), involved in seed shattering. We found evidence for purifying selection acting to constrain functional divergence between paralogous genes. The protein evolution of both pairs of duplicate genes is functionally constrained, as evidenced by Ka/KS ratios of 0.16 between paralogs. This functional constraint is stronger in the highly conserved DNA-binding and protein-binding MIK region than in the C-terminal region. We also assayed the evolutionary forces acting between orthologs of the SEP and SHP genes in A. thaliana and the closely related species, Arabidopsis lyrata. Heterogeneity analyses of the polymorphism-to-divergence ratio indicate selective sweeps have occurred within the transcriptional unit of SHP1 and the promoter of SHP2 in the A. thaliana lineage. Similar analyses identified a significant reduction in polymorphism within the SEP1 locus, spanning the 3′ region of intron 1 to exon 3, that may represent an intragenic sweep within the SEP1 locus. We discuss whether the evolutionary forces acting on SEP1 and SEP2 versus SHP1 and SHP2 vary according to their position in the floral developmental pathway, as found with other floral-regulatory genes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-103
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005


  • Floral development
  • Functional redundancy
  • Paralogs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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