The Preferential Retention of Starch Synthesis Genes Reveals the Impact of Whole-Genome Duplication on Grass Evolution

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Gene duplication is a major force in evolution. Here, we analyzed the fate of duplicated genes following the ancient whole-genome duplication (WGD) in rice. Polyploidy-derived duplicated genes were found to be preferentially lost from one of each pair of duplicated chromosomal segments, suggesting that the asymmetric gene loss may result from transcriptome dominance of the ancestral allotetraploid genome. Genes involved in synthesis and catabolism of saccharides were found to be preferentially retained in rice, reflecting different trajectories of duplicated genes formed by polyploidy between rice and Arabidopsis. Further studies demonstrated all 3 catalyzing steps in the starch biosynthesis pathway have polyploidy-derived duplicated genes and one copy in each step forms a dominant pathway in the grain filling–stage rice. The new starch biosynthesis pathway reflects one aspect of the impact of WGD on grass evolution.

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