Conversion between 100-million-year-old duplicated genes contributes to rice subspecies divergence
Extensive sequence similarity between duplicated gene pairs produced by paleo-polyploidization may result from illegitimate recombination between homologous chromosomes. The genomes of Asian cultivated rice Xian/indica (XI) and Geng/japonica (GJ) have recently been updated, providing new opportunities for investigating on-going gene conversion events. Using comparative genomics and phylogenetic analyses, we evaluated gene conversion rates between duplicated genes produced by polyploidization
... polyploidization 100 million years ago (mya) in GJ and XI. At least 5.19%-5.77% of genes duplicated across three genomes were affected by whole-gene conversion after the divergence of GJ and XI at ~0.4 mya, with more (7.77%-9.53%) showing conversion of only gene portions. Independently converted duplicates surviving in genomes of different subspecies often used the same donor genes. On-going gene conversion frequency was higher near chromosome termini, with a single pair of homoeologous chromosomes 11 and 12 in each genome most affected. Notably, on-going gene conversion has maintained similarity between very ancient duplicates, provided opportunities for further gene conversion, and accelerated rice divergence. Chromosome rearrangement after polyploidization may result in gene loss, providing a basis for on-going gene conversion, and may have contributed directly to restricted recombination/conversion between homoeologous regions. Gene conversion affected biological functions associated with multiple genes, such as catalytic activity, implying opportunities for interaction among members of large gene families, such as NBS-LRR disease-resistance genes, resulting in gene conversion. Duplicated genes in rice subspecies generated by grass polyploidization ~100 mya remain affected by gene conversion at high frequency, with important implications for the divergence of rice subspecies.