Placing Paleopolyploidy in Relation to Taxon Divergence: A Phylogenetic Analysis in Legumes Using 39 Gene Families
Young polyploid events are easily diagnosed by various methods, but older polyploid events become increasingly difficult to identify as chromosomal rearrangements, tandem gene or partial chromosome duplications, changes in substitution rates among duplicated genes, pseudogenization or locus loss, and interlocus interactions complicate the means of inferring past genetic events. Genomic data have provided valuable information about the polyploid history of numerous species, but on their own fail to show whether related species, each with a polyploid past, share a particular polyploid event. A phylogenetic approach provides a powerful method to determine this but many processes may mislead investigators. These processes can affect individual gene trees, but most likely will not affect all genes, and almost certainly will not affect all genes in the same way. Thus, a multigene approach, which combines the large-scale aspect of genomics with the resolution of phylogenetics, has the power to overcome these difficulties and allow us to infer genomic events further into the past than would otherwise be possible. Previous work using synonymous distances among gene pairs within species has shown evidence for large-scale duplications in the legumes Glycine max and Medicago truncatula. We present a case study using 39 gene families, each with three or four members in G. max and the putative orthologues in M. truncatula, rooted using Arabidopsis thaliana. We tested whether the gene duplications in these legumes occurred separately in each lineage after their divergence (Hypothesis 1), or whether they share a round of gene duplications (Hypothesis 2). Many more gene family topologies supported Hypothesis 2 over Hypothesis 1 (11 and 2, respectively), even after synonymous distance analysis revealed that some topologies were providing misleading results. Only ca. 33% of genes examined support either hypothesis, which strongly suggests that single gene family approaches may be insufficient when studying ancient events with nuclear DNA. Our results suggest that G. max and M. truncatula, along with approximately 7000 other legume species from the same clade, share an ancient round of gene duplications, either due to polyploidy or to some other process.