Selection is no more efficient in haploid than in diploid life stages of an angiosperm and a moss.
The masking hypothesis predicts that selection is more efficient in haploids than in diploids, because dominant alleles can mask the deleterious effects of recessive alleles in diploids. However, gene expression breadth and noise can potentially counteract the effect of masking on the rate at which genes evolve. Land plants are ideal to ask whether masking, expression breadth, or expression noise dominate in their influence on the rate of molecular evolution, because they have a biphasic life cycle in which the duration and complexity of the haploid and diploid phase varies among organisms. Here, we generate and compile genome-wide gene expression, sequence divergence, and polymorphism data for Arabidopsis thaliana and for the moss Funaria hygrometrica to show that the evolutionary rates of haploid- and diploid-specific genes contradict the masking hypothesis. Haploid-specific genes do not evolve more slowly than diploid-specific genes in either organism. Our data suggest that gene expression breadth influence the evolutionary rate of phase-specific genes more strongly than masking. Our observations have implications for the role of haploid life stages in the purging of deleterious mutations, as well as for the evolution of ploidy.
Szövényi, P; Ricca, M; Hock, Z; Shaw, JA; Shimizu, KK; Wagner, A
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