Evidence from Drosophila supports higher duplicability of faster evolving genes

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The faster rate of evolution of duplicated genes relative to singletons has been well documented in multiple lineages. This observation has generally been attributed to a presumed release from constraint following creation of a redundant, duplicate copy. However it is not obvious that the relationship operates in this direction. An alternative possibility –that the faster rate of evolution predates the duplication event and the observed differences result from a higher propensity to duplicate in fast evolving genes– has been tested in primates and in insects. However, these studies arrived at different conclusions and clarity is needed on whether these contrasting results relate to differences in methodology or legitimate biological differences between the lineages selected. Here, we test whether duplicable genes are faster evolving independent of duplication in the Drosophila lineage and find that our results support the conclusion that faster evolving genes are more likely to duplicate, in agreement with previous work in primates. Our findings indicate that this characteristic of gene duplication is not restricted to a single lineage and has broad implications for the interpretation of the impact of gene duplication. We identify a subset of ‘singletons’ which defy the general trends and appear to be faster evolving. Further investigation implicates homology detection failure and suggests that these may be duplicable genes with unidentifiable paralogs.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberevac003
JournalGenome biology and evolution
Issue number1
Early online date9 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2022


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