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Curr Biol. 2007 Oct 9;17(19):1669-74. Epub 2007 Sep 6.

Expression partitioning between genes duplicated by polyploidy under abiotic stress and during organ development.

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  • 1UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research and Department of Botany, University of British Columbia, 6270 University Boulevard, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4, Canada.


Allopolyploidy has been a prominent mode of speciation and a recurrent process during plant evolution and has contributed greatly to the large number of duplicated genes in plant genomes [1-4]. Polyploidy often leads to changes in genome organization and gene expression [5-9]. The expression of genes that are duplicated by polyploidy (termed homeologs) can be partitioned between the duplicates so that one copy is expressed and functions only in some organs and the other copy is expressed only in other organs, indicative of subfunctionalization [10]. To determine how homeologous-gene expression patterns change during organ development and in response to abiotic stress conditions, we have examined expression of the alcohol dehydrogenase gene AdhA in allopolyploid cotton (Gossypium hirsutum). Expression ratios of the two homeologs vary considerably during the development of organs from seedlings and fruits. Abiotic stress treatments, including cold, dark, and water submersion, altered homeologous-gene expression. Most notably, only one copy is expressed in hypocotyls during a water-submersion treatment, and only the other copy is expressed during cold stress. These results imply that subfunctionalization of genes duplicated by polyploidy has occurred in response to abiotic stress conditions. Partitioning of duplicate gene expression in response to environmental stress may lead to duplicate gene retention during subsequent evolution.

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