Ancient Gene Duplications, Rather Than Polyploidization, Facilitate Diversification of Petal Pigmentation Patterns in Clarkia gracilis (Onagraceae).
It has been suggested that gene duplication and polyploidization create opportunities for the evolution of novel characters. However, the connections between the effects of polyploidization and morphological novelties have rarely been examined. In this study, we investigated whether petal pigmentation patterning in an allotetraploid Clarkia gracilis has evolved as a result of polyploidization. Clarkia gracilis is thought to be derived through a recent polyploidization event with two diploid species, C. amoena huntiana and an extinct species that is closely related to C. lassenensis. We reconstructed phylogenetic relationships of the R2R3-MYBs (the regulators of petal pigmentation) from two subspecies of C. gracilis and the two purported progenitors, C. a. huntiana and C. lassenensis. The gene tree reveals that these R2R3-MYB genes have arisen through duplications that occurred before the divergence of the two progenitor species, that is, before polyploidization. After polyploidization and subsequent gene loss, only one of the two orthologous copies inherited from the progenitors was retained in the polyploid, turning it to diploid inheritance. We examined evolutionary changes in these R2R3-MYBs and in their expression, which reveals that the changes affecting patterning (including expression domain contraction, loss-of-function mutation, cis-regulatory mutation) occurred after polyploidization within the C. gracilis lineages. Our results thus suggest that polyploidization itself is not necessary in producing novel petal color patterns. By contrast, duplications of R2R3-MYB genes in the common ancestor of the two progenitors have apparently facilitated diversification of petal pigmentation patterns.
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