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Retention of triplicated phytoene synthase (PSY) genes in Brassica napus L. and its diploid progenitors during the evolution of the Brassiceae

Cárdenas, P.D., Gajardo, H.A., Huebert, T., Parkin, I.A., Iniguez-Luy, F.L., Federico, M.L. (2012). Retention of triplicated phytoene synthase (PSY) genes in Brassica napus L. and its diploid progenitors during the evolution of the Brassiceae, 124(7), 1215-1228.


The extent of genome redundancy exhibited by Brassica species provides a model to study the evolutionary fate of multi-copy genes and the effects of polyploidy in economically important crops. Phytoene synthase (PSY) catalyzes the first committed reaction of the carotenoid biosynthetic pathway, which has been shown to be rate-limiting in Brassica napus seeds. In Arabidopsis thaliana, a single PSY gene (AtPSY) regulates phytoene synthesis in all tissues. Considering that diploid Brassica genomes contain three Arabidopsis-like subgenomes, the objectives of the present work were to determine whether PSY gene families exist in B. napus (AACC) and its diploid progenitor species, Brassica rapa (AA) and Brassica oleracea (CC); to establish the level of retention of Brassica PSY genes; to map PSY gene family members in the A and C genomes and to compare Brassica PSY gene expression patterns. A total of 12 PSY homologues were identified, 6 in B. napus (BnaX. PSY. a-f) and 3 in B. rapa (BraA. PSY. a-c) and B. oleracea (BolC. PSY. a-c). Indeed, with six members, B. napus has the largest PSY gene family described to date. Sequence comparison between AtPSY and Brassica PSY genes revealed a highly conserved gene structure and identity percentages above 85% at the coding sequence (CDS) level. Altogether, our data indicate that PSY gene family expansion preceded the speciation of B. rapa and B. oleracea, dating back to the paralogous subgenome triplication event. In these three Brassica species, all PSY homologues are expressed, exhibiting overlapping redundancy and signs of subfunctionalization among photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic tissues. This evidence supports the hypothesis that functional divergence of PSY gene expression facilitates the accumulation of high levels of carotenoids in chromoplast-rich tissues. Thus, functional retention of triplicated Brassica PSY genes could be at least partially explained by the selective advantage provided by increased levels of gene product in floral organs. A better understanding of carotenogenesis in Brassica will aid in the future development of transgenic and conventional cultivars with carotenoid-enriched oil. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.

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