Adaptive Evolution Involving Gene Duplication and Insertion of a Novel Ty1/copia-Like Retrotransposon in Soybean
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- Kanazawa, A., Liu, B., Kong, F. et al. J Mol Evol (2009) 69: 164. doi:10.1007/s00239-009-9262-1
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Gene duplication is a major force for generating evolutionary novelties that lead to adaptations to environments. We previously identified two paralogs encoding phytochrome A (phyA), GmphyA1 and GmphyA2, in soybean, a paleopolyploid species. GmphyA2 is encoded by the E4 locus responsible for photoperiod sensitivity. In photoperiod insensitive lines, GmphyA2 is inactivated by the insertion of a retrotransposon in exon 1. Here, we describe the detailed characterization of the element and its evolutionary significance inferred from the distribution of the allele that harbors the element. Structural characteristics indicated that the element, designated SORE-1, is a novel Ty1/copia-like retrotransposon in soybean, which was phylogenetically related to the Sto-4, BARE-1, and RIRE1 elements. The element was transcriptionally active, and the transcription was partially repressed by an epigenetic mechanism. Sequences homologous with SORE-1 were detected in a genome sequence database of soybean, most of which appeared silent. GmphyA2 that harbors the SORE-1 insertion was detected only in cultivated soybean lines grown in northern regions of Japan, consistent with the notion that photoperiod insensitivity caused by the dysfunction of GmphyA2 is one of genetic changes that allowed soybean cultivation at high latitudes. Taking into account that genetic redundancy is conferred by the two phyA genes, we propose a novel model for the consequences of gene duplication and transposition of retrotransposons: when the gene is duplicated, retrotransposon insertion that causes the loss of a gene function can lead to adaptive evolution while the organism is sustained by the buffering effect brought about by gene duplication.