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1.  Mining transcriptomic data to study the origins and evolution of a plant allopolyploid complex 
PeerJ  2014;2:e391.
Allopolyploidy combines two progenitor genomes in the same nucleus. It is a common speciation process, especially in plants. Deciphering the origins of polyploid species is a complex problem due to, among other things, extinct progenitors, multiple origins, gene flow between different polyploid populations, and loss of parental contributions through gene or chromosome loss. Among the perennial species of Glycine, the plant genus that includes the cultivated soybean (G. max), are eight allopolyploid species, three of which are studied here. Previous crossing studies and molecular systematic results from two nuclear gene sequences led to hypotheses of origin for these species from among extant diploid species. We use several phylogenetic and population genomics approaches to clarify the origins of the genomes of three of these allopolyploid species using single nucleotide polymorphism data and a guided transcriptome assembly. The results support the hypothesis that all three polyploid species are fixed hybrids combining the genomes of the two putative parents hypothesized on the basis of previous work. Based on mapping to the soybean reference genome, there appear to be no large regions for which one homoeologous contribution is missing. Phylogenetic analyses of 27 selected transcripts using a coalescent approach also are consistent with multiple origins for these allopolyploid species, and suggest that origins occurred within the last several hundred thousand years.
PMCID: PMC4034613  PMID: 24883252
Polyploidy; Phylogenetics; Population genomics; NGS
2.  The Charophycean green algae as model systems to study plant cell walls and other evolutionary adaptations that gave rise to land plants 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2012;7(1):1-3.
The Charophycean green algae (CGA) occupy a key phylogenetic position as the evolutionary grade that includes the sister group of the land plants (embryophytes), and so provide potentially valuable experimental systems to study the development and evolution of traits that were necessary for terrestrial colonization. The nature and molecular bases of such traits are still being determined, but one critical adaptation is thought to have been the evolution of a complex cell wall. Very little is known about the identity, origins and diversity of the biosynthetic machinery producing the major suites of structural polymers (i. e., cell wall polysaccharides and associated molecules) that must have been in place for land colonization. However, it has been suggested that the success of the earliest land plants was partly based on the frequency of gene duplication, and possibly whole genome duplications, during times of radical habitat changes. Orders of the CGA span early diverging taxa retaining more ancestral characters, through complex multicellular organisms with morphological characteristics resembling those of land plants. Examination of gene diversity and evolution within the CGA could help reveal when and how the molecular pathways required for synthesis of key structural polymers in land plants arose.
PMCID: PMC3357348  PMID: 22301955
charophycean green algae; model organisms; next generation sequencing; phylogeny; whole genome duplication
3.  Divergent evolutionary fates of major photosynthetic gene networks following gene and whole genome duplications 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2011;6(4):594-597.
Gene and genome duplication are recurring processes in flowering plants, and elucidating the mechanisms by which duplicated genes are lost or deployed is a key component of understanding plant evolution. Using gene ontologies (GO) or protein family (PFAM) domains, distinct patterns of duplicate retention and loss have been identified depending on gene functional properties and duplication mechanism, but little is known about how gene networks encoding interacting proteins (protein complexes or signaling cascades) evolve in response to duplication. We examined patterns of duplicate retention within four major gene networks involved in photosynthesis (the Calvin cycle, photosystem I, photosystem II and the light harvesting complex) across three species and four whole genome duplications, as well as small-scale duplications and showed that photosystem gene family evolution is governed largely by dosage sensitivity.1 In contrast, Calvin cycle gene families are not dosage-sensitive, but exhibit a greater capacity for functional differentiation. Here we review these findings, highlight how this study, by analyzing defined gene networks, is complementary to global studies using functional annotations such as GO and PFAM, and elaborate on one example of functional differentiation in the Calvin cycle gene family, transketolase.
PMCID: PMC3142401  PMID: 21494088
gene duplication; whole genome duplication; dosage sensitivity; balance hypothesis
4.  Taking the First Steps towards a Standard for Reporting on Phylogenies: Minimal Information about a Phylogenetic Analysis (MIAPA) 
In the eight years since phylogenomics was introduced as the intersection of genomics and phylogenetics, the field has provided fundamental insights into gene function, genome history and organismal relationships. The utility of phylogenomics is growing with the increase in the number and diversity of taxa for which whole genome and large transcriptome sequence sets are being generated. We assert that the synergy between genomic and phylogenetic perspectives in comparative biology would be enhanced by the development and refinement of minimal reporting standards for phylogenetic analyses. Encouraged by the development of the Minimum Information About a Microarray Experiment (MIAME) standard, we propose a similar roadmap for the development of a Minimal Information About a Phylogenetic Analysis (MIAPA) standard. Key in the successful development and implementation of such a standard will be broad participation by developers of phylogenetic analysis software, phylogenetic database developers, practitioners of phylogenomics, and journal editors.
PMCID: PMC3167193  PMID: 16901231
5.  Polyploidy Did Not Predate the Evolution of Nodulation in All Legumes 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11630.
Several lines of evidence indicate that polyploidy occurred by around 54 million years ago, early in the history of legume evolution, but it has not been known whether this event was confined to the papilionoid subfamily (Papilionoideae; e.g. beans, medics, lupins) or occurred earlier. Determining the timing of the polyploidy event is important for understanding whether polyploidy might have contributed to rapid diversification and radiation of the legumes near the origin of the family; and whether polyploidy might have provided genetic material that enabled the evolution of a novel organ, the nitrogen-fixing nodule. Although symbioses with nitrogen-fixing partners have evolved in several lineages in the rosid I clade, nodules are widespread only in legume taxa, being nearly universal in the papilionoids and in the mimosoid subfamily (e.g., mimosas, acacias) – which diverged from the papilionoid legumes around 58 million years ago, soon after the origin of the legumes.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Using transcriptome sequence data from Chamaecrista fasciculata, a nodulating member of the mimosoid clade, we tested whether this species underwent polyploidy within the timeframe of legume diversification. Analysis of gene family branching orders and synonymous-site divergence data from C. fasciculata, Glycine max (soybean), Medicago truncatula, and Vitis vinifera (grape; an outgroup to the rosid taxa) establish that the polyploidy event known from soybean and Medicago occurred after the separation of the mimosoid and papilionoid clades, and at or shortly before the Papilionoideae radiation.
The ancestral legume genome was not fundamentally polyploid. Moreover, because there has not been an independent instance of polyploidy in the Chamaecrista lineage there is no necessary connection between polyploidy and nodulation in legumes. Chamaecrista may serve as a useful model in the legumes that lacks a paleopolyploid history, at least relative to the widely studied papilionoid models.
PMCID: PMC2905438  PMID: 20661290
6.  Quantifying Whole Transcriptome Size, a Prerequisite for Understanding Transcriptome Evolution Across Species: An Example from a Plant Allopolyploid 
Evolutionary biologists are increasingly comparing gene expression patterns across species. Due to the way in which expression assays are normalized, such studies provide no direct information about expression per gene copy (dosage responses) or per cell and can give a misleading picture of genes that are differentially expressed. We describe an assay for estimating relative expression per cell. When used in conjunction with transcript profiling data, it is possible to compare the sizes of whole transcriptomes, which in turn makes it possible to compare expression per cell for each gene in the transcript profiling data set. We applied this approach, using quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and high throughput RNA sequencing, to a recently formed allopolyploid and showed that its leaf transcriptome was approximately 1.4-fold larger than either progenitor transcriptome (70% of the sum of the progenitor transcriptomes). In contrast, the allopolyploid genome is 94.3% as large as the sum of its progenitor genomes and retains ≥93.5% of the sum of its progenitor gene complements. Thus, “transcriptome downsizing” is greater than genome downsizing. Using this transcriptome size estimate, we inferred dosage responses for several thousand genes and showed that the majority exhibit partial dosage compensation. Homoeologue silencing is nonrandomly distributed across dosage responses, with genes showing extreme responses in either direction significantly more likely to have a silent homoeologue. This experimental approach will add value to transcript profiling experiments involving interspecies and interploidy comparisons by converting expression per transcriptome to expression per genome, eliminating the need for assumptions about transcriptome size.
PMCID: PMC2997557  PMID: 20671102
transcriptome size; transcriptome-normalized expression; genome-normalized expression; genome doubling; gene dosage responses

Results 1-6 (6)