Meiotic Gene Evolution: Can You Teach a New Dog New Tricks?

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Abstract

Meiosis, the basis of sex, evolved through iterative gene duplications. To understand whether subsequent duplications have further enriched the core meiotic “tool-kit,” we investigated the fate of meiotic gene duplicates following whole genome duplication (WGD), a common occurrence in eukaryotes. We show that meiotic genes return to a single copy more rapidly than genome-wide average in angiosperms, one of the lineages in which WGD is most vividly exemplified. The rate at which duplicates are lost decreases through time, a tendency that is also observed genome-wide and may thus prove to be a general trend post-WGD. The sharpest decline is observed for the subset of genes mediating meiotic recombination; however, we found no evidence that the presence of these duplicates is counterselected in two recent polyploid crops selected for fertility. We therefore propose that their loss is passive, highlighting how quickly WGDs are resolved in the absence of selective duplicate retention.

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