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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The phytochrome gene family in tomato and the rapid differential evolution of this family in angiosperms.

A reexamination of the genome of the tomato (renamed Solanum lycopersicum L.) indicates that it contains five, or at most perhaps six, phytochrome genes (PHY), each encoding a different apoprotein (PHY). Five previously identified tomato PHY genes have been designated PHYA, PHYB1, PHYB2, PHYE, and PHYF. A molecular phylogenetic analysis is consistent with the hypothesis that the angiosperm PHY family is composed of four subfamilies (A, B, C/F, and E). Southern analyses indicate that the tomato genome does not contain both a PHYC and a PHYF. Molecular phylogenetic analyses presented here, which utilize for the first time full-length PHY sequences from two completely characterized angiosperm gene families, indicate that tomato PHYF is probably an ortholog of Arabidopsis PHYC. They also confirm that the angiosperm PHY family is undergoing relatively rapid differential evolution. Assuming PHYF is an ortholog of PHYC, PHY genes in eudicots are evolving (Ka/site) at 1.52-2.79 times the rate calculated as average for other plant nuclear genes. Again assuming PHYF is an ortholog of PHYC, the rate of evolution of the C and E subfamilies is at least 1.33 times the rate of the A and B subfamilies. PHYA and PHYB in eudicots are evolving at least 1.45 times as fast as their counterparts in the Poaceae. PHY functional domains also exhibit different evolutionary rates. The C-terminal region of angiosperm PHY (codons 800-1105) is evolving at least 2.11 times as fast as the photosensory domain (codons 200-500). The central region of a domain essential for phytochrome signal transduction (codons 652-712) is also evolving rapidly. Nonsynonymous substitutions occur in this region at 2.03-3.75 times the average rate for plant nuclear genes. It is not known if this rapid evolution results from selective pressure or from the absence of evolutionary constraint.[1]


  1. The phytochrome gene family in tomato and the rapid differential evolution of this family in angiosperms. Alba, R., Kelmenson, P.M., Cordonnier-Pratt, M.M., Pratt, L.H. Mol. Biol. Evol. (2000) [Pubmed]
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