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J Mol Evol. 1990 Aug;31(2):132-50.

Independent gene evolution in the potato actin gene family demonstrated by phylogenetic procedures for resolving gene conversions and the phylogeny of angiosperm actin genes.

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Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge, England.


Nine different actin DNA sequences were isolated from the common potato, Solanum tuberosum, and the nucleotide sequence of five actin loci and of two allelic variants are presented. Unlike the wide variation in intron position among animal actin genes, the potato actin genes have three introns situated in the same positions as reported for all other angiosperm actin genes. Using a novel combination of analytical procedures (G-test and compatibility analysis), we could not find evidence of frequent large or small nonreciprocal exchanges of genetic material between the sequenced loci, although there were a few candidates. Resolution of such gene conversion events and the quantification of independence of gene evolution in multigene families is critical to the inference of phylogenetic relationships. Comparison with actin genes in other angiosperm species suggests that the actin multigene family can be divided into a number of subfamilies, evolved by descent rather than gene conversion, which are of possible functional origin, with one major subfamily diversification occurring before the divergence of monocots and dicots. The silent rate of nucleotide substitution was estimated to be similar to that suggested for a number of other plant nuclear genes, whereas the replacement rate was extremely slow, suggestive of selective constraints.

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