Gene loss and movement in the maize genome

Jinsheng Lai, Jianxin Ma, Zuzana Swigoňová, Wusirika Ramakrishna, Eric Linton, Victor Llaca, Bahattin Tanyolac, Yong Jin Park, O. Young Jeong, Jeffrey L. Bennetzen, Joachim Messing

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150 Scopus citations


Maize (Zea mays L. ssp. mays), one of the most important agricultural crops in the world, originated by hybridization of two closely related progenitors. To investigate the fate of its genes after tetraploidization, we analyzed the sequence of five duplicated regions from different chromosomal locations. We also compared corresponding regions from sorghum and rice, two important crops that have largely collinear maps with maize. The split of sorghum and maize progenitors was recently estimated to be 11.9 Mya, whereas rice diverged from the common ancestor of maize and sorghum ∼50 Mya. A data set of roughly 4 Mb yielded 206 predicted genes from the three species, excluding any transposon-related genes, but including eight gene remnants. On average, 14% of the genes within the aligned regions are noncollinear between any two species. However, scoring each maize region separately, the set of noncollinear genes between all four regions jumps to 68%. This is largely because at least 50% of the duplicated genes from the two progenitors of maize have been lost over a very short period of time, possibly as short as 5 million years. Using the nearly completed rice sequence, we found noncollinear genes in other chromosomal positions, frequently in more than one. This demonstrates that many genes in these species have moved to new chromosomal locations in the last 50 million years or less, most as single gene events that did not dramatically alter gene structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1924-1931
Number of pages8
JournalGenome Research
Issue number10 A
StatePublished - Oct 2004


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