Date of Award

6-2016

Degree Name

MS in Biological Sciences

Department

Biological Sciences

Advisor

Ed Himelblau

Abstract

Like many angiosperms, Brassica rapa underwent several rounds of whole genome duplication during its evolutionary history. Brassica rapa is particularly valuable for studying genome evolution because it also experienced whole genome triplication shortly after it diverged from the common ancestor it shares with Arabidopsis thaliana about 17-20 million years ago. While many B. rapa genes appear resistant to paralog retention, close to 50% of B. rapa genes have retained multiple, paralogous loci for millions of years and appear to be multi-copy tolerant. Based on previous studies, gene function may contribute to the selective pressure driving certain genes back to singleton status. It is suspected that other factors, such as gene expression patterns, also play a role in determining the fate of genes following whole genome triplication. Published RNA-seq data was used to determine if gene expression patterns influence the retention of extra gene copies. It is hypothesized that retention of genes in duplicate and triplicate is more likely if those genes are expressed in a tissue-specific manner, as opposed to being expressed globally across all tissues. This study shows that genes expressed specifically in flowers and roots in B. rapa are more resistant to fractionation than globally expressed genes following whole genome triplication. In particular, there appears to have been selection on genes expressed specifically in flower tissues to retain higher copy numbers and for all three copies to exhibit the same flower-specific expression pattern. Future research to determine if these observations in Brassica rapa are consistent with other angiosperms that have undergone recent whole genome duplication would confirm that retention of flower-specific-expressed genes is a general feature in plant genome evolution and not specific to B. rapa.

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