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Molecular biology and evolution

Evidence for positive selection on the floral scent gene isoeugenol-O-methyltransferase.


PMID 12598682

Abstract

Isoeugenol-O-methyltransferase (IEMT) is an enzyme involved in the production of the floral volatile compounds methyl eugenol and methyl isoeugenol in Clarkia breweri (Onagraceae). IEMT likely evolved by gene duplication from caffeic acid-O-methyltransferase followed by amino acid divergence, leading to the acquisition of its novel function. To investigate the selective context under which IEMT evolved, maximum likelihood methods that estimate variable d(N)/d(S) ratios among lineages, among sites, and among a combination of both lineages and sites were utilized. Statistically significant support was obtained for a hypothesis of positive selection driving the evolution of IEMT since its origin. Subsequent Bayesian analyses identified several sites in IEMT that have experienced positive selection. Most of these positions are in the active site of IEMT and have been shown by site-directed mutagenesis to have large effects on substrate specificity. Although the selective agent is unknown, the adaptive evolution of this gene may have resulted in increased effectiveness of pollinator attraction or herbivore repellence.

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