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Research article2018Peer reviewedOpen access

Successive duplication-divergence mechanisms at the RCO locus contributed to leaf shape diversity in the Brassicaceae

Streubel, Susanna; Fritz, Michael Andre; Teltow, Melanie; Kappel, Christian; Sicard, Adrien


Gene duplication is a major driver for the increase of biological complexity. The divergence of newly duplicated paralogs may allow novel functions to evolve, while maintaining the ancestral one. Alternatively, partitioning the ancestral function among paralogs may allow parts of that role to follow independent evolutionary trajectories. We studied the REDUCED COMPLEXITY (RCO) locus, which contains three paralogs that have evolved through two independent events of gene duplication, and which underlies repeated events of leaf shape evolution within the Brassicaceae. In particular, we took advantage of the presence of three potentially functional paralogs in Capsella to investigate the extent of functional divergence among them. We demonstrate that the RCO copies control growth in different areas of the leaf. Consequently, the copies that are retained active in the different Brassicaceae lineages contribute to define the leaf dissection pattern. Our results further illustrate how successive gene duplication events and subsequent functional divergence can increase trait evolvability by providing independent evolutionary trajectories to specialized functions that have an additive effect on a given trait.


Plant development; Gene duplication; Leaf shape; Morphological evolution; Capsella; Arabidopsis

Published in

2018, Volume: 145, number: 8, article number: dev164301

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Developmental Biology

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