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Genetics. 2002 Apr;160(4):1651-9.

Gene loss, silencing and activation in a newly synthesized wheat allotetraploid.

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  • 1Department of Plant Sciences, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.


We analyzed the events that affect gene structure and expression in the early stages of allopolyploidy in wheat. The transcriptome response was studied by analyzing 3072 transcripts in the first generation of a synthetic allotetraploid (genome S(l)S(l)A(m)A(m)), which resembles tetraploid wheat (genome BBAA), and in its two diploid progenitors Aegilops sharonensis (S(l)S(l)) and Triticum monococcum ssp. aegilopoides (A(m)A(m)). The expression of 60 out of 3072 transcripts was reproducibly altered in the allotetraploid: 48 transcripts disappeared and 12 were activated. Transcript disappearance was caused by gene silencing or by gene loss. Gene silencing affected one or both homeologous loci and was associated in part with cytosine methylation. Gene loss or methylation had occurred already in the F(1) intergeneric hybrid or in the allotetraploid, depending on the locus. The silenced/lost genes included rRNA genes and genes involved in metabolism, disease resistance, and cell cycle regulation. The activated genes with a known function were all retroelements. These findings show that wide hybridization and chromosome doubling affect gene expression via genetic and epigenetic alterations immediately upon allopolyploid formation. These events contribute to the genetic diploidization of newly formed allopolyploids.

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