The Evolution of Selfing in Arabidopsis thaliana

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Science  24 Aug 2007:
Vol. 317, Issue 5841, pp. 1070-1072
DOI: 10.1126/science.1143153

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Unlike most of its close relatives, Arabidopsis thaliana is capable of self-pollination. In other members of the mustard family, outcrossing is ensured by the complex self-incompatibility (S) locus,which harbors multiple diverged specificity haplotypes that effectively prevent selfing. We investigated the role of the S locus in the evolution of and transition to selfing in A. thaliana. We found that the S locus of A. thaliana harbored considerable diversity, which is an apparent remnant of polymorphism in the outcrossing ancestor. Thus, the fixation of a single inactivated S-locus allele cannot have been a key step in the transition to selfing. An analysis of the genome-wide pattern of linkage disequilibrium suggests that selfing most likely evolved roughly a million years ago or more.

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