Gene duplication is important for gene family evolution, allowing for functional divergence and innovation. In flowering plants, duplicated genes are widely observed, and functional redundancy of closely related duplicates has been reported, but few cases of functional divergence of close duplicates have been described. Here, we show that the Arabidopsis AtKIN14a and AtKIN14b genes encoding highly similar kinesins are two of the most closely related Arabidopsis paralogs, which were formed by a duplication event that occurred after the split of Arabidopsis and poplar. In addition, AtKIN14a and AtKIN14b exhibit varying degrees of coding sequence divergence. Further genetic studies of plants carrying atkin14a and/or atkin14b mutations indicate that, although these two genes have similar functions, there is clear evidence for functional divergence. Although both genes are important for male and female meiosis, AtKIN14a plays a more critical role in male meiosis than AtKIN14b. Moreover, either one of these two genes is necessary and sufficient for gametophyte development, indicating that they are redundant for this function. Therefore, AtKIN14a and AtKIN14b together play important roles in controlling plant reproductive development. Our results suggest that the AtKIN14a and AtKIN14b genes have retained similar functions in gametophyte development and female meiosis, but have evolved partially distinct functions in male meiosis, with AtKIN14a playing a more substantive role.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science
- Cell Biology