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Genetics. Aug 2000; 155(4): 1913–1926.
PMCID: PMC1461218

Copy number lability and evolutionary dynamics of the Adh gene family in diploid and tetraploid cotton (Gossypium).


Nuclear-encoded genes exist in families of various sizes. To further our understanding of the evolutionary dynamics of nuclear gene families we present a characterization of the structure and evolution of the alcohol dehydrogenase (Adh) gene family in diploid and tetraploid members of the cotton genus (Gossypium, Malvaceae). A PCR-based approach was employed to isolate and sequence multiple Adh gene family members, and Southern hybridization analyses were used to document variation in gene copy number. Adh gene copy number varies among Gossypium species, with diploids containing at least seven Adh loci in two primary gene lineages. Allotetraploid Gossypium species are inferred to contain at least 14 loci. Intron lengths vary markedly between loci, and one locus has lost two introns usually found in other plant Adh genes. Multiple examples of apparent gene duplication events were observed and at least one case of pseudogenization and one case of gene elimination were also found. Thus, Adh gene family structure is dynamic within this single plant genus. Evolutionary rate estimates differ between loci and in some cases between organismal lineages at the same locus. We suggest that dynamic fluctuation in copy number will prove common for nuclear genes, and we discuss the implications of this perspective for inferences of orthology and functional evolution.

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Selected References

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