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In higher plants, whole genome duplication (WGD) is thought to facilitate the evolution of C4 photosynthesis from C3 photosynthesis. To understand this issue, we used new and existing leaf-development transcriptomes to construct two coding sequence databases for C4 Gynandropsis gynandra and C3 Tarenaya hassleriana, which shared a WGD before their divergence. We compared duplicated genes in the two species and found that the WGD contributed to four aspects of the evolution of C4 photosynthesis in G. gynandra. First, G. gynandra has retained the duplicates of ALAAT (alanine aminotransferase) and GOGAT (glutamine oxoglutarate aminotransferase) for nitrogen recycling to establish a photorespiratory CO2 pump in bundle sheath cells for increasing photosynthesis efficiency, suggesting that G. gynandra experienced a C3-C4 intermediate stage during the C4 evolution. Second, G. gynandra has retained almost all known vein-development-related paralogous genes derived from the WGD event, likely contributing to the high vein complexity of G. gynandra. Third, the WGD facilitated the evolution of C4 enzyme genes and their recruitment into the C4 pathway. Fourth, several genes encoding photosystem I proteins were derived from the WGD and are up-regulated in G. gynandra, likely enabling the NADH dehydrogenase-like (NDH) complex to produce extra ATPs for the C4 CO2-concentration mechanism. Thus, the WGD apparently played an enabler role in the evolution of C4 photosynthesis in G. gynandra. Importantly, an ALAAT duplicate became highly expressed in bundle sheath cells in G. gynandra, facilitating nitrogen recycling and transition to the C4 cycle. This study revealed how WDG may facilitate C4 photosynthesis evolution.© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


Chi-Fa Huang, Wen-Yu Liu, Mei-Yeh Jade Lu, Yi-Hua Chen, Maurice S B Ku, Wen-Hsiung Li. Whole genome duplication facilitated the evolution of C4 photosynthesis in Gynandropsis gynandra. Molecular biology and evolution. 2021 Jun 30

PMID: 34191030

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