Molecular evolution of nuclear genes in Cupressacea, a group of conifer trees

Junko Kusumi, Yoshihiko Tsumura, Hiroshi Yoshimaru, Hidenori Tachida

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34 Citations (Scopus)


We surveyed the molecular evolutionary characteristics of 11 nuclear genes from 10 conifer trees belonging to the Taxodioideae, the Cupressoideae, and the Sequoioideae. Comparisons of substitution rates among the lineages indicated that the synonymous substitution rates of the Cupressoideae lineage were higher than those of the Taxodioideae. This result parallels the pattern previously found in plastid genes. Likelihood-ratio tests showed that the nonsynonymous-synonymous rate ratio did not change significantly among lineages. In addition, after adjustments for lineage effects, the dispersion indices of synonymous and nonsynonymous substitutions were considerably reduced, and the latter was close to 1. These results indicated that the acceleration of evolutionary rates in the Cupressoideae lineage occurred in both the nuclear and plastid genomes, and that generally, this lineage effect affected synonymous and nonsynonymous substitutions similarly. We also investigated the relationship of synonymous substitution rates with the nonsynonymous substitution rate, base composition, and codon bias in each lineage. Synonymous substitution rates were positively correlated with nonsynonymous substitution rates and GC content at third codon positions, but synonymous substitution rates were not correlated with codon bias. Finally, we tested the possibility of positive selection at the protein level, using maximum likelihood models, assuming heterogeneous nonsynonymous-synonymous rate ratios among codon (amino acid) sites. Although we did not detect strong evidence of positively selected codon sites, the analysis suggested that significant variation in nonsynonymous-synonymous rate ratio exists among the sites. The most likely sites for action of positive selection were found in the ferredoxin gene, which is an important component of the apparatus for photosynthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)736-747
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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