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Trends Genet. 1996 Sep;12(9):364-9.

The coevolution of gene family trees.

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Department of Biology, University of California, Riverside 92521, USA.


Gene duplication mutants arise spontaneously at a high rate in bacteria, bacteriophages, insects and mammalian cells, and are generally viable. Thus, the rate-limiting step in the evolutionary process of gene duplication and divergence was probably not gene duplication per se. Rather, it is likely that only a small fraction of all duplicated genes were retained, and were able to diverge into new specificities. Furthermore, gene duplications and functionally related gene families often show similarities in divergence dates, functional specificities, and phylogenetic tree topologies. These correlations suggest that the family trees of functionally related gene families co-evolved because functionally complementary gene duplication and divergence events tended to be retained by natural selection.

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