Phenotypic and genotypic expression of self-incompatibility haplotypes in Arabidopsis lyrata suggests unique origin of alleles in different dominance classes

Mol Biol Evol. 2005 Jul;22(7):1609-20. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msi153. Epub 2005 Apr 27.


The highly divergent alleles of the SRK gene in outcrossing Arabidopsis lyrata have provided important insights into the evolutionary history of self-incompatibility (SI) alleles and serve as an ideal model for studies of the evolutionary and molecular interactions between alleles in cell-cell recognition systems in general. One tantalizing question is how new specificities arise in systems that require coordination between male and female components. Allelic recruitment via gene conversion has been proposed as one possibility, based on the division of DNA sequences at the SRK locus into two distinctive groups: (1) sequences whose relationships are not well resolved and display the long branch lengths expected for a gene under balancing selection (Class A); and (2) sequences falling into a well-supported group with shorter branch lengths (Class B) that are closely related to an unlinked paralogous locus. The purpose of this study was to determine if differences in phenotype (site of expression assayed using allele-specific reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) or function (dominance relationships assayed through controlled pollinations) accompany the sequence-based classification. Expression of Class A alleles was restricted to floral tissues, as predicted for genes involved in the SI response. In contrast, Class B alleles, despite being tightly linked to the SI phenotype, were unexpectedly expressed in both leaves and floral tissues; the same pattern found for a related unlinked paralogous sequence. Whereas Class A included haplotypes in three different dominance classes, all Class B haplotypes were found to be recessive to all except one Class A haplotype. In addition, mapping of expression and dominance patterns onto an S-domain-based genealogy suggested that allelic dominance may be determined more by evolutionary history than by frequency-dependent selection for lowered dominance as some theories suggest. The possibility that interlocus gene conversion might have contributed to allelic diversity is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Base Sequence
  • Brassica rapa
  • CpG Islands
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Variation
  • Haplotypes*
  • Linkage Disequilibrium
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phenotype*
  • Phylogeny*
  • Plant Proteins
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Protein Kinases
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Selection, Genetic


  • Plant Proteins
  • Protein Kinases
  • S-receptor kinase