Comparative genomics provides evidence for an ancient genome duplication in fish.

There are approximately 25 000 species in the division Teleostei and most are believed to have arisen during a relatively short period of time ca. 200 Myr ago. The discovery of 'extra' Hox gene clusters in zebrafish (Danio rerio), medaka (Oryzias latipes), and pufferfish (Fugu rubripes), has led to the hypothesis that genome duplication provided the genetic raw material necessary for the teleost radiation. We identified 27 groups of orthologous genes which included one gene from man, mouse and chicken, one or two genes from tetraploid Xenopus and two genes from zebrafish. A genome duplication in the ancestor of teleost fishes is the most parsimonious explanation for the observations that for 15 of these genes, the two zebrafish orthologues are sister sequences in phylogenies that otherwise match the expected organismal tree, the zebrafish gene pairs appear to have been formed at approximately the same time, and are unlinked. Phylogenies of nine genes differ a little from the tree predicted by the fish-specific genome duplication hypothesis: one tree shows a sister sequence relationship for the zebrafish genes but differs slightly from the expected organismal tree and in eight trees, one zebrafish gene is the sister sequence to a clade which includes the second zebrafish gene and orthologues from Xenopus, chicken, mouse and man. For these nine gene trees, deviations from the predictions of the fish-specific genome duplication hypothesis are poorly supported. The two zebrafish orthologues for each of the three remaining genes are tightly linked and are, therefore, unlikely to have been formed during a genome duplication event. We estimated that the unlinked duplicated zebrafish genes are between 300 and 450 Myr. Thus, genome duplication could have provided the genetic raw material for teleost radiation. Alternatively, the loss of different duplicates in different populations (i.e. 'divergent resolution') may have promoted speciation in ancient teleost populations.

Taylor, J.S., Van de Peer, Y., Braasch, I., Meyer, A. (2001) Comparative genomics provides evidence for an ancient genome duplication in fish. Philos. T. Roy. Soc. 356(1414):1661-79.

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