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Mol Biol Evol. 2001 Jun;18(6):936-44.

Unequal evolutionary rates between annual and perennial lineages of checker mallows (Sidalcea, Malvaceae): evidence from 18S-26S rDNA internal and external transcribed spacers.

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  • 1Jepson Herbarium and Department of Integrative Biology, University of California at Berkeley, CA, USA.


Heterogeneous DNA substitution rates were found in the 18S-26S nuclear ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and external transcribed spacer (ETS) regions of Sidalcea (Malvaceae), a putatively young genus of annuals and perennials. The majority of comparisons revealed that the annual species had significantly higher molecular evolutionary rates than the perennials, whereas rates were consistently homogenous between obligate annual species. These findings led us to conclude that generation time or possibly another biological factor distinguishing annuals and perennials has influenced rates of molecular evolution in SIDALCEA: The congruence of relative-rate test results across both spacer regions reinforced the association between life history and rate of rDNA evolution across lineages of checker mallows. Evolutionary rate variation within perennials mainly involved three basally divergent lineages. The faster rate in one lineage, Sidalcea stipularis, compared with other perennials may be the result of genetic drift in the only known, small, population. The other two basally divergent lineages had slower evolutionary rates compared with the remaining perennials; possible explanations for these differences include rate-reducing effects of a suffrutescent (rather than herbaceous) habit and seed dormancy.

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