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Extensive, Recent Intron Gains in Daphnia Populations

Science  27 Nov 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5957, pp. 1260-1262
DOI: 10.1126/science.1179302

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Abstract

Rates and mechanisms of intron gain and loss have traditionally been inferred from alignments of highly conserved genes sampled from phylogenetically distant taxa. We report a population-genomic approach that detected 24 discordant intron/exon boundaries between the whole-genome sequences of two Daphnia pulex isolates. Sequencing of presence/absence loci across a collection of D. pulex isolates and outgroup Daphnia species shows that most polymorphisms are a consequence of recent gains, with parallel gains often occurring at the same locations in independent allelic lineages. More than half of the recent gains are associated with short sequence repeats, suggesting an origin via repair of staggered double-strand breaks. By comparing the allele-frequency spectrum of intron-gain alleles with that for derived single-base substitutions, we also provide evidence that newly arisen introns are intrinsically deleterious and tend to accumulate in population-genetic settings where random genetic drift is a relatively strong force.

  • * These authors contributed equally to this work.

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