A generalized least-squares estimate for the origin of sporophytic self-incompatibility.
Analysis of nucleotide sequences that regulate the expression of self-incompatibility in flowering plants affords a direct means of examining classical hypotheses for the origin and evolution of this major feature of mating systems. Departing from the classical view of monophyly of all forms of self-incompatibility, the current paradigm for the origin of self-incompatibility postulates multiple episodes of recruitment and modification of preexisting genes. In Brassica, the S locus, which regulates sporophytic self-incompatibility, shows homology to a multigene family present both in self-compatible congeners and in groups for which this form of self-incompatibility is atypical. A phylogenetic analysis of S-allele sequences together with homologous sequences that do not cosegregate with self-incompatibility permits dating the change of function that marked the origin of self-incompatibility. A generalized least-squares method is introduced that provides closed-form expressions for estimates and standard errors for function-specific divergence rates and times of divergence among sequences. This analysis suggests that the age of the sporophytic self-incompatibility system expressed in Brassica exceeds species divergence within the genus by four- to fivefold. The extraordinarily high levels of sequence diversity exhibited by S alleles appears to reflect their ancient derivation, with the alternative hypothesis of hypermutability rejected by the analysis.
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