The disparity between rates of morphological and molecular evolution remains a key paradox in evolutionary genetics. A proposed resolution to this paradox has been the conjecture that morphological evolution proceeds via diversification in regulatory loci, and that phenotypic evolution may correlate better with regulatory gene divergence. This conjecture can be tested by examining rates of regulatory gene evolution in species that display rapid morphological diversification within adaptive radiations. We have isolated homologues to the Arabidopsis APETALA3 (ASAP3/TM6) and APETALA1 (ASAP1) floral regulatory genes and the CHLOROPHYLL A/B BINDING PROTEIN9 (ASCAB9) photosynthetic structural gene from species in the Hawaiian silversword alliance, a premier example of plant adaptive radiation. We have compared rates of regulatory and structural gene evolution in the Hawaiian species to those in related species of North American tarweeds. Molecular evolutionary analyses indicate significant increases in nonsynonymous relative to synonymous nucleotide substitution rates in the ASAP3/TM6 and ASAP1 regulatory genes in the rapidly evolving Hawaiian species. By contrast, no general increase is evident in neutral mutation rates for these loci in the Hawaiian species. An increase in nonsynonymous relative to synonymous nucleotide substitution rate is also evident in the ASCAB9 structural gene in the Hawaiian species, but not to the extent displayed in the regulatory loci. The significantly accelerated rates of regulatory gene evolution in the Hawaiian species may reflect the influence of allopolyploidy or of selection and adaptive divergence. The analyses suggest that accelerated rates of regulatory gene evolution may accompany rapid morphological diversification in adaptive radiations.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Aug 28 2001|
- Floral regulatory loci
- Hawaiian silversword alliance
ASJC Scopus subject areas