Genome evolution and speciation genetics of clawed frogs (Xenopus and Silurana)
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Speciation of clawed frogs occurred through bifurcation and reticulation of evolutionary lineages, and resulted in extant species with different ploidy levels. Duplicate gene evolution and expression in these animals provides a unique perspective into the earliest genomic transformations after vertebrate whole genome duplication (WGD) and suggests that functional constraints are relaxed compared to before duplication but still consistently strong for millions of years following WGD. Additionally, extensive quantitative expression divergence between duplicate genes occurred after WGD. Diversification of clawed frogs was potentially catalyzed by transposition and divergent resolution--processes that occur through different genetic mechanisms but that have analogous implications for genome structure. How sex determination is maintained after genome duplication is fundamental to our understanding of why allopolyploidization is so prevalent in this group, and why clawed frogs violate Haldane's Rule for hybrid sterility. Future studies of expression subfunctionalization in polyploids will shed light on the role and purviews of cis- and trans-regulatory elements in gene regulation.
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