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Open Access Research article

Gene duplication and an accelerated evolutionary rate in 11S globulin genes are associated with higher protein synthesis in dicots as compared to monocots

Chun Li12, Meng Li1, Jim M Dunwell3 and Yuan-Ming Zhang1*

Author affiliations

1 State Key Laboratory of Crop Genetics and Germplasm Enhancement, College of Agriculture, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, P R China

2 Henan Sesame Research Center, Henan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Zhengzhou 450002, P R China

3 School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6AS, UK

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Citation and License

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2012, 12:15  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-12-15

Published: 31 January 2012



Seed storage proteins are a major source of dietary protein, and the content of such proteins determines both the quantity and quality of crop yield. Significantly, examination of the protein content in the seeds of crop plants shows a distinct difference between monocots and dicots. Thus, it is expected that there are different evolutionary patterns in the genes underlying protein synthesis in the seeds of these two groups of plants.


Gene duplication, evolutionary rate and positive selection of a major gene family of seed storage proteins (the 11S globulin genes), were compared in dicots and monocots. The results, obtained from five species in each group, show more gene duplications, a higher evolutionary rate and positive selections of this gene family in dicots, which are rich in 11S globulins, but not in the monocots.


Our findings provide evidence to support the suggestion that gene duplication and an accelerated evolutionary rate may be associated with higher protein synthesis in dicots as compared to monocots.

11S globulin; dicot; evolutionary rate; gene duplication; legumins; monocot; positive selection