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Open Access Research article

Genomic, regulatory and epigenetic mechanisms underlying duplicated gene evolution in the natural allotetraploid Oryza minuta

Yi Sui12, Bo Li1, Jinfeng Shi1 and Mingsheng Chen1*

Author Affiliations

1 State Key Laboratory of Plant Genomics, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

2 Current address: Institute of Crop Science, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing, China

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BMC Genomics 2014, 15:11  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-11

Published: 6 January 2014



Polyploid species contribute to Oryza diversity. However, the mechanisms underlying gene and genome evolution in Oryza polyploids remain largely unknown. The allotetraploid Oryza minuta, which is estimated to have formed less than one million years ago, along with its putative diploid progenitors (O. punctata and O. officinalis), are quite suitable for the study of polyploid genome evolution using a comparative genomics approach.


Here, we performed a comparative study of a large genomic region surrounding the Shattering4 locus in O. minuta, as well as in O. punctata and O. officinalis. Duplicated genomes in O. minuta have maintained the diploid genome organization, except for several structural variations mediated by transposon movement. Tandem duplicated gene clusters are prevalent in the Sh4 region, and segmental duplication followed by random deletion is illustrated to explain the gene gain-and-loss process. Both copies of most duplicated genes still persist in O. minuta. Molecular evolution analysis suggested that these duplicated genes are equally evolved and mostly manipulated by purifying selection. However, cDNA-SSCP analysis revealed that the expression patterns were dramatically altered between duplicated genes: nine of 29 duplicated genes exhibited expression divergence in O. minuta. We further detected one gene silencing event that was attributed to gene structural variation, but most gene silencing could not be related to sequence changes. We identified one case in which DNA methylation differences within promoter regions that were associated with the insertion of one hAT element were probably responsible for gene silencing, suggesting a potential epigenetic gene silencing pathway triggered by TE movement.


Our study revealed both genetic and epigenetic mechanisms involved in duplicated gene silencing in the allotetraploid O. minuta.

Comparative genomics; Wild rice; Allotetraploid; Gene silencing