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Curr Biol. 2011 Jul 26;21(14):1215-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.06.008. Epub 2011 Jul 7.

The same regulatory point mutation changed seed-dispersal structures in evolution and domestication.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Norwich NR4 7UH, UK.


It is unclear whether gene regulatory changes that drive evolution at the population and species levels [1-3] can be extrapolated to higher taxonomic levels. Here, we investigated the role of cis-regulatory changes in fruit evolution within the Brassicaceae family. REPLUMLESS (RPL, At5g02030) controls development of the replum, a structure with an important role in fruit opening and seed dispersal [6]. We show that reduced repla resembling the Arabidopsis rpl mutant correlated across the Brassicaceae with a point mutation in a conserved cis-element of RPL. When introduced in Arabidopsis, this nucleotide change specifically reduced RPL expression and function in the fruit. Conversely, Brassica RPL containing the Arabidopsis version of the cis-element was sufficient to convert the Brassica replum to an Arabidopsis-like morphology. A mutation in the same nucleotide position of the same cis-element in a RPL ortholog has been independently selected to reduce seed dispersal during domestication of rice, in spite of its very different fruit anatomy. Thus, single-nucleotide regulatory mutations at the same position explain developmental variation in seed-dispersal structures at the population and family levels and suggest that the same genetic toolkit is relevant to domestication and natural evolution in widely diverged species.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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