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Genetics. 2007 Dec;177(4):1987-96.

Extensive allelic variation in gene expression in populus F1 hybrids.

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  • 1University of British Columbia Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research, Department of Botany, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T1Z4, Canada.


Hybridization between plant species can induce speciation as well as phenotypic novelty and heterosis. Hybrids also can show genome rearrangements and gene expression changes compared with their parents. Here we determined the allelic variation in gene expression in Populus trichocarpa x Populus deltoides F(1) hybrids. Among 30 genes analyzed in four independently formed hybrids, 17 showed >1.5-fold expression biases for one of the two alleles, and there was monoallelic expression of one gene. Expression ratios of the alleles differed between leaves and stems for 10 genes. The results suggest differential regulation of the two parental alleles in the hybrids. To determine if the allelic expression biases were caused by hybridization we compared the ratios of species-specific transcripts between an F(1) hybrid and its parents. Thirteen of 19 genes showed allelic expression ratios in the hybrid that were significantly different from the ratios of the parental species. The P. deltoides allele of one gene was silenced in the hybrid. Modes of gene regulation were inferred from the hybrid-parent comparisons. Cis-regulation was inferred for 6 genes, trans-regulation for 1 gene, and combined cis- and trans-regulation for 9 genes. The results from this study indicate that hybridization between plant species can have extensive effects on allelic expression patterns, some of which might lead to phenotypic changes.

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