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Genetics. 1999 Nov;153(3):1455-62.

The molecular evolution of terminal ear1, a regulatory gene in the genus Zea.

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Department of Plant Biology, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55108, USA.


Nucleotide diversity in the terminal ear1 (te1) gene, a regulatory locus hypothesized to be involved in the morphological evolution of maize (Zea mays ssp. mays), was investigated for evidence of past selection. Nucleotide polymorphism in a 1.4-kb region of te1 was analyzed for a sample of 26 sequences isolated from 12 maize lines, five populations of the maize progenitor, Z. mays ssp. parviglumis, six other Zea populations, and two Tripsacum species. Although nucleotide diversity in te1 in maize is reduced relative to ssp. parviglumis, phylogenetic and statistical analyses of the pattern of polymorphism among these sequences provided no evidence of past selection, indicating that the region of the gene studied was probably not involved in maize evolution. The level of reduction in genetic diversity in te1 in maize relative to its progenitor is comparable to that found in previous reports for isozymes and other neutrally evolving maize genes and is consistent with a genome-wide reduction of genetic diversity resulting from a domestication bottleneck. An estimate of the age (1.2-1.4 million yr) of the maize gene pool based on te1 is roughly consistent with previous estimates based on other neutral genes, but may be biased by the apparently slow synonymous substitution rate at te1.

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