Divergent Evolution of Duplicate Genes Leads to Genetic Incompatibilities Within A. thaliana

David Bikard, Dhaval Patel, Claire Le Metté, Veronica Giorgi, Christine Camilleri, Malcolm J. Bennett & Olivier Loudet

Genetic incompatibilities resulting from interactions between two loci represent a potential source of postzygotic barriers and may be an important factor in evolution when they impair the outcome of interspecific crosses. We show that, in crosses between strains of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, loci interact epistatically, controlling a recessive embryo lethality. This interaction is explained by divergent evolution occurring among paralogs of an essential duplicate gene, for which the functional copy is not located at the same locus in different accessions. These paralogs demonstrate genetic heterogeneity in their respective evolutionary trajectories, which results in widespread incompatibility among strains. Our data suggest that these passive mechanisms, gene duplication and extinction, could represent an important source of genetic incompatibilities across all taxa.

Science 323 (5914), 623-626

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