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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Aug 24;101(34):12404-10. Epub 2004 Jul 7.

Rapid recent growth and divergence of rice nuclear genomes.

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Department of Genetics, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.


By employing the nuclear DNA of the African rice Oryza glaberrima as a reference genome, the timing, natures, mechanisms, and specificities of recent sequence evolution in the indica and japonica subspecies of Oryza sativa were identified. The data indicate that the genome sizes of both indica and japonica have increased substantially, >2% and >6%, respectively, since their divergence from a common ancestor, mainly because of the amplification of LTR-retrotransposons. However, losses of all classes of DNA sequence through unequal homologous recombination and illegitimate recombination have attenuated the growth of the rice genome. Small deletions have been particularly frequent throughout the genome. In >1 Mb of orthologous regions that we analyzed, no cases of complete gene acquisition or loss from either indica or japonica were found, nor was any example of precise transposon excision detected. The sequences between genes were observed to have a very high rate of divergence, indicating a molecular clock for transposable elements that is at least 2-fold more rapid than synonymous base substitutions within genes. We found that regions prone to frequent insertions and deletions also exhibit higher levels of point mutation. These results indicate a highly dynamic rice genome with competing processes for the generation and removal of genetic variation.

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