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Am J Bot. 2004 Oct;91(10):1709-25. doi: 10.3732/ajb.91.10.1709.

The evolution of nuclear genome structure in seed plants.

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Department of Biology, University of Missouri-St. Louis, One University Boulevard, St. Louis, Missouri 63121 USA;


Plant nuclear genomes exhibit extensive structural variation in size, chromosome number, number and arrangement of genes, and number of genome copies per nucleus. This variation is the outcome of a set of highly active processes, including gene duplication and deletion, chromosomal duplication followed by gene loss, amplification of retrotransposons separating genes, and genome rearrangement, the latter often following hybridization and/or polyploidy. While these changes occur continuously, it is not surprising that some of them should be fixed evolutionarily and come to mark major clades. Large-scale duplications pre-date the radiation of Brassicaceae and Poaceae and correlate with the origin of many smaller clades as well. Nuclear genomes are largely colinear among closely related species, but more rearrangements are observed with increasing phylogenetic distance; however, the correlation between amount of rearrangement and time since divergence is not perfect. By changing patterns of gene expression and triggering genome rearrangements, novel combinations of genomes (hybrids) may be a driving force in evolution.

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