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Genome Res. 2005 Apr;15(4):526-36.

Ancient haplotypes resulting from extensive molecular rearrangements in the wheat A genome have been maintained in species of three different ploidy levels.

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  • 1Institute of Plant Biology, University of Zürich, 8008 Zürich, Switzerland.


Plant genomes, in particular grass genomes, evolve very rapidly. The closely related A genomes of diploid, tetraploid, and hexaploid wheat are derived from a common ancestor that lived <3 million years ago and represent a good model to study molecular mechanisms involved in such rapid evolution. We have sequenced and compared physical contigs at the Lr10 locus on chromosome 1AS from diploid (211 kb), tetraploid (187 kb), and hexaploid wheat (154 kb). A maximum of 33% of the sequences were conserved between two species. The sequences from diploid and tetraploid wheat shared all of the genes, including Lr10 and RGA2 and define a first haplotype (H1). The 130-kb intergenic region between Lr10 and RGA2 was conserved in size despite its activity as a hot spot for transposon insertion, which resulted in >70% of sequence divergence. The hexaploid wheat sequence lacks both Lr10 and RGA2 genes and defines a second haplotype, H2, which originated from ancient and extensive rearrangements. These rearrangements included insertions of retroelements and transposons deletions, as well as unequal recombination within elements. Gene disruption in haplotype H2 was caused by a deletion and subsequent large inversion. Gene conservation between H1 haplotypes, as well as conservation of rearrangements at the origin of the H2 haplotype at three different ploidy levels indicate that the two haplotypes are ancient and had a stable gene content during evolution, whereas the intergenic regions evolved rapidly. Polyploidization during wheat evolution had no detectable consequences on the structure and evolution of the two haplotypes.

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