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Research article2007Peer reviewedOpen access

Recent degeneration of an old duplicated flowering time gene in Brassica nigra

Sjodin P, Hedman H, Shavorskaya O, Finet C, Lascoux M, Lagercrantz U


Gene and genome duplications play a major role in the evolution of plant species. The Brassica nigra genome is highly replicated as a result of ancient polyploidization events. Two copies of the flowering time gene CONSTANS (COa and COb) have been identified in B. nigra, and previous studies showed that COa is functional. In the present study, the polymorphism of 92 COb alleles sampled in seven populations was analyzed. Both polymorphism and recombination levels were elevated and varied strongly among populations and 8% of COb alleles exhibit apparently disabling mutations. Sequence data, however, do not provide unambiguous support for the presence of relaxed selective constraint on COb as compared to known functional CO genes. On the one hand, some of the disabling mutations reached high-frequency arguing for a loss of function but, on the other hand, the ratio of nonsynonymous to synonymous nucleotide polymorphism and diversity is low and similar to that observed in other B. nigra CO and CO-like genes, supporting the conservation of some function. We also showed that COb is still transcribed. Finally, the flowering time of Arabidopsis thaliana co mutant plants transformed with COb alleles with and without apparent disabling mutations was similar. We propose that COb was retained for a long period after duplication, but a recent fixation of a detrimental mutation, possibly as an effect of a bottleneck, resulted in its nonfunctionalization. We also speculate as to the presence of subsequent selection for rapid degeneration of the gene

Published in

2007, Volume: 98, number: 6, pages: 375-384

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Food Science
    Agricultural Science
    Renewable Bioenergy Research

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