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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Feb 17;101(7):1910-5. Epub 2004 Feb 5.

Type I MADS-box genes have experienced faster birth-and-death evolution than type II MADS-box genes in angiosperms.

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  • 1Institute of Molecular Evolutionary Genetics and Department of Biology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.


Plant MADS-box genes form a large gene family for transcription factors and are involved in various aspects of developmental processes, including flower development. They are known to be subject to birth-and-death evolution, but the detailed features of this mode of evolution remain unclear. To have a deeper insight into the evolutionary pattern of this gene family, we enumerated all available functional and nonfunctional (pseudogene) MADS-box genes from the Arabidopsis and rice genomes. Plant MADS-box genes can be classified into types I and II genes on the basis of phylogenetic analysis. Conducting extensive homology search and phylogenetic analysis, we found 64 presumed functional and 37 nonfunctional type I genes and 43 presumed functional and 4 nonfunctional type II genes in Arabidopsis. We also found 24 presumed functional and 6 nonfunctional type I genes and 47 presumed functional and 1 nonfunctional type II genes in rice. Our phylogenetic analysis indicated there were at least about four to eight type I genes and approximately 15-20 type II genes in the most recent common ancestor of Arabidopsis and rice. It has also been suggested that type I genes have experienced a higher rate of birth-and-death evolution than type II genes in angiosperms. Furthermore, the higher rate of birth-and-death evolution in type I genes appeared partly due to a higher frequency of segmental gene duplication and weaker purifying selection in type I than in type II genes.

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